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Chiefs blame Peter Mutharika on maize price hike

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Some traditional leaders in the Northern Region have asked President Peter Mutharika to rescind his decree on the maize price hike at the Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (Admarc) markets arguing the price is a burden on Malawians.

Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe of Rumphi said on Tuesday that Mutharika’s directive was politically motivated.

The Tumbuka leader decried that the issue of maize has overtime been politicised and yet it calls for administrative solutions.

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Chikulamayembe stated that the rot in the Ministry of Agriculture in the last two decades has had a negative effect to the rural masses.

In October, President Mutharika ordered Admarc to increase the maize price by 27 percent from K5, 500 per 50 Kilogrammes to K12, 500.

The raise forced most of the vendors across the country to farther raise their selling price for instance to about K14, 500 in Mzuzu.

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This led to a general outcry that most ordinary Malawians are failing to access the staple grain from anywhere including state-funded Admarc.

Chikulamayembe said: “The hunger crisis we are in is tantamount to system failure, which I believe do not call for political solutions in form of presidential decrees, because indigenous citizens are being subjected to more misery.”

“In the meantime, perhaps there should have been a committee to look into practical solutions which would work for the poor, this generalised approach will not help matters,” he added.

Chikulamayembe’s sentiments come after some 16 local chiefs in Karonga expressed similar concerns during a political rally held by Malawi Congress Party’s President Lazarus Chakwera.

They asked Chakwera together with other opposition legislators to press for a downward adjustment of the maize prices.

Traditional Authority Kilupula said separately that he sympathises with his subjects who are complaining day-in-day-out.

“Raising the price was definitely not the solution, it is even worse for us here because of the disasters people were left destitute and hardly have any means to generate money to afford maize at such high prices,” Kilupula said.

In response, Chakwera said Mutharika abused his power arguing such mandate lies with Admarc authorities as an independent institution.

“I intend to raise the matter with fellow parliamentarians during the next meeting, we cannot afford to watch the few Malawians who can afford to buy maize suffer just like that,” Chakwera said.

Government’s spokesperson Malison Ndau said government will not bow down to the outcry saying everything is in place to distribute maize to those that cannot afford the current price.

Mutharika said last month that the 6.5 million Malawians facing hunger crisis will be receiving 50 kilogrammes of maize every month from the estimated 262,500 metric tonnes for humanitarian purposes.

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