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Cane farmers seek legal intervention

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LEADING THE FARMERS—Chimunthu Banda

Concerned sugarcane farmers in Nkhotakota have resorted to take to court their grievances over sharing of proceeds from sugar sales with Illovo Sugar Company.

The farmers have been accusing Illovo of lacking accountability and poor corporate governance systems in the way it has been distributing proceeds from sale of sugar and molasses.

In a statement signed by Henry Chimunthu Banda who is leading the farmers, the farmers have decided to take the matter to court after efforts to engage the company yielded nothing.

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“Having failed to bring Illovo to a negotiating table, we have thus issued instructions to our lawyers to approach the High Court of Malawi to seek interim reliefs,” it said.

Chimunthu Banda who is also parliamentarian for Nkhotakota North and a sugarcane farmer, said the company should provide them with accounts, records, invoices and any other document relevant to the determination of prices for sugarcane supplied.

The farmers also want the company to declare revenue from sugar exports and movement of such proceeds through Reserve Bank of Malawi to an individual’s bank account.

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In a written response to The Daily Times questionnaire, Illovo Sugar Malawi spokesperson, Olive Kawelama said the firm remains committed to contact and dialogue.

“Our response, which has been communicated to them remains that we are willing to engage with all stakeholders and the Ministry of Industry and Trade will be facilitating a meeting soon,”

Recently Sugarcane Growers Association of Malawi also wrote the Ministry of Trade and Industry over similar issues.

The association’s Executive Secretary Gedfrey Nkata said they will soon hold a meeting with Illovo and ministry officials to discuss the matter.

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