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Lazarus Chakwera sacks Lobin Lowe

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Lobin Lowe

President Lazarus Chakwera has sacked Lobin Lowe as Minister of Agriculture and his deputy Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima.

And Chakwera has since issued a stern warning to members of his cabinet that he will not keep in his fold people who are failing to show results in the various portfolios that he appointed them in.

In a national address last night, the President said he has removed Lowe and Kambauwa from his cabinet for presiding over the mess in the implementation of the 2022 Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

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He has since replaced Lowe with Sam Kawale who was six weeks ago appointed as chairperson for the cabinet committee on AIP and was until Tuesday the Minister of Lands and Urban Development.

In his address, the President said he would soon be making changes to his cabinet to ensure that he keeps only those that are ready to deliver on his development agenda.

“The time for keeping people as Ministers without any noticeable contribution or difference they are making to my efforts to transform government performance in delivering better public services to Malawians is past.

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“The time for keeping people as Ministers who allow incompetence, corruption, and wastage to happen on their watch simply because the people doing it are their friends or members of their parties or alliance partners is past,” Chakwera said.

On Lowe, the President said he had demonstrated gross incompetence and negligence of duty in the manner he handled this year’s AIP.

Among Lowe’s wrongs, Chakwera cited how his ministry has failed to meet the September deadline to ensure everything is in place and how it was duped of way over K750 million by a British firm in a fertiliser purchase deal.

He disclosed that an investigation into the matter revealed a litany of bad decisions that smack of incompetence and gross negligence.

He also faulted the ministry and the SFFRFM for proceeding with what he called “a suspicious method of payment” which landed the tax payers’ money into two different bank accounts offshore under different particulars.

The President said however processes led by the Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda are at an advanced stage to have the funds returned to government.

Chakwera said the AIP failures experienced thus far have put the country in an emergency situation.

But he assured Malawians and all beneficiaries of the AIP that government will deliver on the programme as some of the fertiliser supplies are in the county while more are on the way.

Reacting to the President’s statement, chairperson for the Agriculture Committee of Parliament Sameer Suleiman commended the firing of Lowe and appointment of Kawale.

He however cast doubt on the possibility of the country recovering the money that the British firm swindled government since reports indicate that it is now defunct.

“It is our hope that the AG will work on this with speed so that we recover what we need to recover,” he said.

There had been agitation and anticipation for Lowe to be removed.

In the morning yesterday, in what some quarters saw as a desperate attempt to keep his job, Lowe toured SFFRFM warehouses in Lilongwe where he showed fertiliser stock he said is for the programme.

But he refused to give information on the quantities and the status of the rest of the supply. It was to be his last tour as minister.

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