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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Malawi president wants truth on Zambia-Malawi maize purchase

 

LILONGWE Malawi (Xinhua) -- Malawi president Peter Mutharika has challenged a four-member commission of inquiry to probe the country’s procurement of maize from Zambia.

This follows media reports in both Zambia and Malawi that the procurement of 100,000 tonnes of white maize from Zambia by Malawi’s agro-marketing agency, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC), smacks of corruption.

Contradicting stories concerning the transaction worth 34.5 million U.S. dollars have surfaced with Malawi officials saying the transaction was a government-to-government deal while others indicating that the Malawi government, through ADMARC, bought the maize from Zambian Cooperative Federation (ZCF) with involvement of another private trader.

Following the revelations, the civil society and the opposition have kept questioning the Malawi government’s decision to buy the maize in that arrangement when the government-to-government deal could have yielded a fairer price.

In response to the queries, the Malawi leader instituted a commission of inquiry earlier in the month to dig into the matter and to report to him by January 31.

The commissioners took oath of office Friday in Malawi capital Lilongwe, with Mutharika challenging its members to "get to the bottom of the matter and bring to the people nothing but the truth."

"Maize is our life. If you find any wrong-doing, then I will act accordingly," said Mutharika.

Meanwhile, the country’s graft-busting agency Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) also said it would work hand-in-hand with its Zambian counterpart to get to the root of the matter.

Malawi’s Agricultural Parliamentary Committee also announced that it would institute parallel investigations into the procurement.

The opposition and Mutharika’s critics have been calling for the resignation or firing of the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda and ADMARC Chief Foster Mulumbe to pave way for investigation.

But the minister said his involvement in the procurement was minimal as the main buyer of the maize was ADMARC and not his ministry.

The minister has since welcomed the president’s inquiry into the matter, saying there is need for the transaction to be investigated at length.

             

 

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