Chakwera asked to fire government officials in fertilizer scandal


President Lazarus Chakwera has been asked to fire government officials such as controlling officers involved in the payment of K750 million to a London butchery for the procurement of fertilizer.

Yesterday, Chakwera fired Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe and his Deputy Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima for their negligence which has led to the scandal and has derailed the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

However, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa has called on the president to also fire officers involved in the procurement scandal.

“I had expected the President to take further steps to deal with the technical staff that connived with the former minister in the infamous K750 million AIP scandal,” said Nankhumwa in a statement yesterday.

Malawians on social media have also made similar calls, saying Lowe did act alone in authorizing payments to the butchery, Barkaat Foods Limited, and failing to conduct due diligence to ascertain whether the UK based butchery had capacity to supply fertilizer.

“The Minister did not do all the authorization of this rot alone, fire all involved,” one person wrote on Facebook.

Also writing on his Facebook wall, Journalist James Chavula said: “In case of substandard construction projects, the fingers do not only point at the contractor and engineers involved, but also the supervising consultant who issues certificates of completion and okays Treasury to pay for the jokes.

“Why then does the man at the helm of State business seem to be blindingly deluded to believe that firing the minister and deputy minister will fix the mess at the Ministry of Agriculture? Where are the gatekeepers, the controlling officers, on the Hill of Skulls? Should there be need for more timber for their crucifixes, I can donate a truckload.”

In the procurement scandal, the Ministry of Agriculture through Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM) engaged a UK based company and paid it USD725,000 (about K750 million) in two installments to two accounts held in two countries.

Chakwera confirmed that the officials made the payment without following proper procedures as they bypassed Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority as well as the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

After payment of the money, a team from the Ministry of Agriculture traveled to the United Kingdom where the officials realized that government had been duped since Barkaat Foods Limited does not have capacity to supply fertilizer.

Chakwera said government is making efforts to recover the money with the help of authorities from the two countries.

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