George Chaponda speaks on Transglobe


Agriculture Minister, George Chaponda, has admitted that he indeed had talks with Transglobe Produce Export Limited concerning maize imports from Zambia but said that he referred the company to the Government of Zambia as it was a government-to-government deal.

In a late evening telephone interview after his personal assistants blocked The Daily Times reporters accusing them of being liars, Chaponda said the company wanted his intervention for them to supply maize to government.

“Transglobe approached me and said ‘can we sell maize to you [government]?’ I advised them to go back to Zambian Cooperative Federation [ZCF] or the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia because it was a government-to-government deal. They only supplied 2,000 tonnes through our partners [donors],” he said.


Chaponda admitted that Transglobe’s offer price of $400 per tonne was higher than what most bidders offered.

“We had made a decision that nobody should sell us above $345 or thereabout. That price of $345 translates into K12,000 or K12,500 per bag,” he said.

He explained that he had to lead the Malawi delegation for negotiations in Zambia because everyone, including the Public Affairs Committee, was demanding immediate solution to the maize problem.


On October 31, 2016, Transglobe Operations Director, Rashid Tayub, sent mail to Chaponda’s private email address following a discussion that the two had.

“Dear Honourable Minister, please find copy of letter from Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia, attached as discussed,” reads a covering letter to Tayub’s mail.

But in a separate interview yesterday, Tayub said he approached the minister because the technocrats in the ministry were nowhere to be seen. Pressed to explain his statement Tayub said:

“You see, everyone was running around trying to sort out the maize situation. I was also going outside the country and had to sort this before leaving. It is not like I wanted to cut corners,” he said.

Tayub explained that although his company had an export permit from Zambia, it did not bring maize into Malawi because of logistical challenges.

“We had no TPIN in Zambia and could not clear with the tax authorities there… all sorts of things. We later realised that the permit was based on the contract that Admarc had with ZCF. We just stopped the whole thing,” said Tayub who has already been interrogated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The Zambian maize deal has stirred controversy in both Zambia and Malawi as it was shrouded in secrecy and betrayal between the involved parties. It is widely believed that government officials from both countries wanted personal benefits from the deal before Times Group brought the whole transaction to light.

Meanwhile, a presidential commission, the ACB and a joint parliamentary committees’ commission are separately probing the matter.

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