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Lobin Lowe takes On Sameer Suleman

‘This is an individual who is just trying to bring lies to the public’

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Sameer Suleman

Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe has hit back at Sameer Suleman, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, for preoccupying himself with spreading what he says are lies about him.

Suleman has been probably one of the fiercest critics of Lowe and officials on account of a number of issues including conduct around the flagship Agriculture Input Programme (AIP). the Ministry of Agriculture

In an interview yesterday, Suleman said he expects President Lazarus Chakwera who is scheduled to address the nation on AIP tomorrow “to make big changes at the Ministry of Agriculture starting from the minster himself, the principal secretaries and the group handling the AIP”.

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“He has to fire them and bring in new people that can manage to do the work within the remaining period.

“Having the same people will not yield anything they have shown that they do not care what is happening. Whether tax payers’ money is lost or not, they do not care,” he said.

But Lowe has hit back at Suleman.

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“There is nothing tangible that he is saying. Show me anything sensible that he has said. You will see that there is nothing,” Lowe told Times last evening.

“At first, he told Parliament that the Ministry of Agriculture has misplaced K30 billion but it was not true.

“Have you taken time to investigate and see if this so-called chairperson is saying the truth.

“He is so jealous and he has made it to deal with me by spreading lies,” he said.

And the angry minister gave this reporter some few words for thought.

“If you want to spread the lies that he is propagating, go ahead and write the story that I have failed but if you follow procedures go ahead and investigate and see if he is saying the truth,” he said.

For Suleman, Chakwera’s address tomorrow should be a moment that finally fixes the 2022 AIP, now rocked with an admission by the ministry itself that it has been duped of K750 million in fertiliser purchase.

Two weeks ago, Principal Secretary in the ministry Sandram Maweru said in a statement that government had paid the money as a commitment fee to Barkaat Foods Limited which it said had a production line with a globally-known fertiliser manufacturer, Yara Limited.

But after receiving the K750 million, the United Kingdom firm terminated the contract.

Suleiman said since the President has placed AIP among the agenda of his address, the committee expects him to inform the nation where the fertiliser is, how much is available and when will it be distributed to the beneficiaries.

An agriculture expert, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, said it is also his expectation that the President will clear the fog on the AIP procurement process.

“Since the issue [of the K750 million] broke out, we hoped that the minister or the newly-appointed chairperson of the AIP task force [Sam Kawale] would make an address but that has not been the case, so the President must tell Malawians more on that,” he said.

Like Suleman, Nkhono-Mvula said Chakwera should fire Lowe as he promised.

“Sometime in April, we all heard the President issuing him a warning that if things do not work out by September, that will be it for Lowe. This is October and clearly, there is nothing,” he said.

In the 2022-23 national budget, AIP has been allocated K109.5 billion.

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