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Peter Mutharika sees nothing a miss in maize deal

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Although the commission of inquiry he appointed to probe the maize import deal from Zambia is to present a report today, President Peter Mutharika on Friday said there was nothing wrong in the purchase, claiming stories that are being written on the matter are “useless.”

But a human right activist has faulted Mutharika’s statement which they fear has compromised the independence of the commission of enquiry.

The President was speaking at Kamuzu International Airport (Kia) yesterday during the groundbreaking ceremony of the expansion of the airport terminal building.

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“We should stop writing negative stories about our country. For example, the issue of maize is useless. It is false. We have wasted a lot of time talking about it, yet there is nothing wrong which happened. We should stop that,” Mutharika said.

However, some activists have expressed discontent with the composition of the commission of enquiry, arguing it won’t bring the expected results.

Centre for Development of the People (CEDEP) executive director, Gift Trapence, said they have always questioned the independence of the commission of enquiry.

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He said the President’s statement shows that he is confused and biased and wondered if he would treat the recommendations of the commission of enquiry seriously.

“We have been vindicated that the process the President established is not trustworthy. The President has no direction on how to solve the maize saga. He establishes the commission of enquiry but says something contrary. It just shows that he is confused on handling of our rights to food,” Trapence said.

During the ceremony, Mutharika also hit out at people who have been saying that seven Cabinet ministers were implicated in the K577 billion scandal that took place during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

“And there is an issue of seven Cabinet ministers. Some people have been saying I am protecting the seven ministers. I have asked them to give me the names of the ministers. If you give me the names, I will take action or shut up,” Mutharika said.

Meanwhile, the company, which was hired to supply 50,000 metric tonnes out of the 100,000 that Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) planned to purchase in Zambia, Transglobe Limited, on Friday refused to appear before the joint Parliamentary Committee that has been conducting an inquiry into the deal.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia Julius Shawa who appeared before the committee last week disclosed that his ministry issued two permits for the supply of the 100,000 metric tonnes and both ZCF and Transglobe were allowed to supply 50,000 metric tonnes each.

After meeting all relevant stakeholders, the committee was on Friday afternoon expected to finalise its series of meetings by meeting Transglobe and thereafter Grain Traders and Processors Association (GTPA) but only GTPA chairperson, Grace Mhango, availed herself before the committee.

Chairperson for the joint Parliamentary committee, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said the communication from Transglobe has all indications that the company is not willing to appear before the committee.—Additional reporting by Pilirani Kachinziri and Mozes Chitsulo

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