Parliamentary Committee probes disappearance of NFRA maize worth K112.5 million


The Joint Parliamentary Committee has today questioned National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) board over the disappearance of 7,500 bags of maize worth K112.5 million.

The maize was taken in 13 trucks by businessperson Smollett Kachere’s  Kachere Trading from ADMARC depots to NFRA but did not reach NFRA.

Appearing before the committee,  NFRA board chairperson, Dennis Kalekeni said on 30th August this year there were trucks which lined up to offload maize and one of the vehicles was a van.

NFRA regulations bar transportation of maize in a van and NFRA told Kachere Trading to transfer the maize to an open truck. Later, it was noted that the van had left the premises.

Kachere, the owner of Kachere Trading, said they wanted to do the transfer of the maize at their premises. However, five days went by and the maize was not taken to NFRA.

Kachere, however, insisted that the maize had been taken to NFRA and was offloaded. But after an audit, it was discovered that the maize was not taken to NFRA. This led to a more intensive audit at loading and offloading depots which revealed that 14 trucks had not been offloaded maize at NFRA.

Kachere demanded a joint reconciliation which revealed that it was actually 13 trucks that were missing – 11 were carrying  600 bags of maize each, one was carrying 500 bags and the last was carrying 400 bags making a total of 7,500 worth K112.5 million.

Kalekeni said the matter was reported to police on October 21, 2022 and two days later Kachere was arrested by the police.

“The matter is with police and Kachere has been released on court bail,” said Kalekeni.

According to Kalekeni, investigations have revealed that the trucks were diverted to Karonga and Chitipa where the maize was transferred into other trucks. There are suspicions that the stolen maize was smuggled out of the country.

He added that following his release on bail, Kachere and his lawyer met NRFA asking to be allowed to continue transporting  maize, saying NRFA already owe him K64 million and the rest of the money lost through the stolen maize can be recovered through the contract.

Kalekeni said NFRA management did not provide a response to the proposal but pushed the issue to the NFRA board. Kalekeni, however, said the board is not prepared to meet with the trnasporter.

Kalekeni during the inquiry admitted that there are issues malpractices in the awarding of contract to Kachere who is not a transporter but an agent who got a contract and subcontracted transporters.

Member of Parliament on the joint committee have since accused the NFRA Board of sleeping on the job with one member, Sameer Suleman, asking President Lazarus Chakwera to dissolve the NFRA and institute further investigations at the NFRA.

Meanwhile, the committee has sent back the NFRA Board so that it should gather more information on the matter and present it to the joint committee.

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