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Vuwa Kaunda, George Chaponda differ on maize imports

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President Peter Mutharika’s aid on unity, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, and Minister of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda, have contradicted on the country stand to buy maize from other countries.

On Monday Vuwa Kaunda in an interview after touring Mzuzu main Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) depot that followed a stakeholders meeting on food situation in the Northern Region said the country will only import maize when the corporation exhausts buying local stocks from farmers.

But in a telephone interview on Friday, Chaponda dismissed the presidential aide’s claim disclosing that Malawi has already paid for and is set to commence maize imports from neighbouring Zambia.

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“It is not true and I don’t know where you are getting that information from. Admarc is geared to import 100,000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia and also 300,000 tonnes from Ukraine,” Chaponda said.

Chaponda said the Government of Malawi through his ministry has already finalised the transactions concerning the purchase.

But quizzed further to explain in an interview on the sidelines of the Admarc tour, Vuwa whose sincerity was questioned from the start maintained that though logistical arrangements were made to buy, they were meant for future purchase.

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“There is still a lot of maize in the country. If the local stocks are not adequate, government will import from countries as far as Brazil, Canada and many other countries with maize,” Kaunda said.

The presidential adviser who insisted to take even technical questions, despite the presence of new Admarc Regional Manager, Japhet Dindi, and Crops Officer, Fred Manyozo, justified his role on issues of hunger.

“Things like hunger, discontent and crime are obstacles to peace. When people are hungry and are queuing at Admarc when there is maize scarcity, people can riot. These are obstacles to peace and in order to prevent the situation from getting worse, you are better off engaging and preventing the situation from getting out of hand,” he said.

Civil Society Agricultural Network (Cisanet) Executive Director, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, said in an interview on Saturday the contradiction shows lack of seriousness on the part of government.

“If two officials of the same government are giving two contradictory statements, it means there is lack of communication among them. I believe some of these crucial decisions are made when government meets. We expect such government to be up to date with accurate information,” Nkhono-Mvula said.

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