Who is sitting on that money?
It is very disturbing, again, to hear that up to this day, no one has released any money to both the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) for purchasing of maize from farmers, who are already being fleeced by private traders and vendors as they are buying commodities from them for a song.
It is very cruel for the private traders to have the farmers fully at their mercy, just because all hopes they had that government would buy their harvest at a better price have quickly evaporated.
One tends to wonder why this is always happening, and yet the finger ends up pointing at the two parastatals for entering the market late. Could it be that the confusion has come in because the function was handled by a whole different company last year, or indeed we will have to buy the same old excuse of wanting to ensure that the harvest, especially maize, dries to the required level of moisture content?
I am pretty sure everyone at Capital Hill is fully aware that the time to stock up the barns is now and therefore they ought to take immediate steps that would guarantee that Admarc or the sister company are well equipped. By now, with the ‘renewed’ Admarc around, I am certain that fear which we had raised the other time regarding ‘trust issues’ must have been fully put to rest. So, who then is deliberately sitting on that money allocated for maize purchase?
Much as we know we have a deficit in the national budget, nobody can cheat Malawians that this matter of maize purchase is not among the priorities. In fact, looking at the calamity that befell the Malawi nation due to the Cyclone Freddy-induced disaster whereby a good hectarage of maize and other crops was washed away, we need to move with haste and ensure that people do not end up starving once all the maize that is now in abundance and fetching an affordable price is snapped up by government agencies to fill the silos and other warehouses.
While the authorities are dilly dallying on the subject, it has been clear that some traders have been exporting a lot of our maize, if the trucks we saw recently being impounded following the export ban on such commodities by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is anything to go by.
That’s the way, madam SPC
At long last, the meeting between Parliament, through its accounts committee and Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba finally took place in Salima on the shores of Lake Malawi. I assume it was a frank discussion, judging by the beaming smiles of Zamba and Pac Chairperson Mark Botomani in the picture which the media captured after the meeting.
Why was this refreshing? You might ask. Well, for starters, we were all convinced that the ‘head honcho’ of the civil service had been giving Parliament the run-around as on two separate occasions she failed to turn up during scheduled meetings. I recall in one instance she had delegated her deputy for the meeting, who had to be unceremoniously turned back as Pac insisted they wanted the SPC herself and not otherwise.
All is well that ends well as the committee gave its piece of mind to Zamba, stressing that she must act on all errant officers and bring about prudence in the civil service by disciplining public officers and departments that had failed to account for huge sums of Kwacha of public funds. Surprise surprise!
The SPC appeared to be on the same wavelength with the legislators as she indicated that she was more than ready to do what was necessary in as far as the issues raised go, which, in a way, exonerates her from the picture that had been depicted that she was uncooperative.
Hopefully, this was not just a sham, as has been the tendency for public officials who have appeared before Parliament on countless occasions but nothing moves and the matters end up being buried. In fact, it gets even more frustrating that we have to keep talking about the very same stuff over and over again.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).