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Malawi government caught in maize scam

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Opposition Leader in Zambia, Saviour Chishimba, has threatened to drag Malawi Government to court over alleged corrupt tendencies in the purchase of 100,000 metric tonnes of maize in the copper rich nation.

Meanwhile, Chishimba who is leader of United Progressive Party (UPP) has urged Zambia President Edgar Lungu to investigate the matter arguing that some government officials from the countries are bent at benefiting from the deal when in fact the transaction is “purely private sector driven”.

In an interview yesterday from his Lusaka base, Chishimba said the alleged corrupt scandal can be proved in any tribunal and that he has all the documents to support his claims.

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“We are compiling details and in the next few days, we are taking the matter to Comesa Competition Commission. What has happened is called circumvention and it is a serious crime under international law. The deal was not between government to government but between Malawi and a Zambia private company. If anyone tells you otherwise that person is corrupt and can be sued,” Chishimba said.

Some analysts believe that Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) may be charging more for its maize than the price offered by vendors because the deal has to accommodate a cut for the alleged middlemen. Admarc is a strategically historical parastatal organisation sustained by tax-payers’ money to sell subsidised produce which majority of Malawians must afford.

But Chief Executive Officer for Admarc, Foster Mulumbe, has rubbished the assertions by the UPP President saying as far as Malawi is concerned, the deal to buy the 100,000 metric tonnes of the staple grain was between the two governments and not a privately owned company known as Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd as alleged by Chishimba.

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According to the statement by the UPP President which has also been published on some online publications in Zambia, the private company allegedly entered into a contract to buy 100,00 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia Cooperative Federation Ltd (ZCF) at $215 per metric tonne.

It is further being alleged that Kaloswe Company in June this year signed an agreement with Admarc and under the agreement the grain marketer was to purchase the maize at $345 per metric tonne.

“All transportation of maize to Malawi and other logistical requirements were to be met by Kaloswe. This agreement was signed by a Mr. Foster C. Malumbe for Admarc and a Mr. Isaac Kapambwe for Kaloswe. The second agreement was an addendum in which the parties mutually agreed that since ZCF was the ultimate source of maize it would be prudent to pay the whole amount of US$34.5 million into their (ZCF) account,

“ZCF would in turn deduct US$21.5 million due to it (ZCF) as duly agreed with Kaloswe on 31st May, 2016. The balance was going to be paid to Kaloswe whose legal duty it was to transport and handle all logistics in the whole transaction,” reads part of the statement signed by Chishimba.

In an interview yesterday, Mulumbe categorically denied any dealings with the private company and insisted that the only agreement he signed for the purchase of maize was between Malawi and the Government of Zambia.

Said Mulumbe,” If you come to our depot in Lilongwe where the trucks from Zambia are offloading the maize, you will see for yourself that they are labeled Zambia Cooperative Federation. We have said it time and again where we are buying the maize but people don’t believe us. We only have one contract and all the 100,000 metric tonnes are coming from that supplier.”

The first consignment of maize from Zambia started arriving in the country late last month.

Malawi is facing a worst food crisis in over a decade with at least 6.7 million people in need of food aid.

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