Malawi minister of agriculture, irrigation and water development George Chaponda has been reported to have lied about trips to Zambia where he facilitated the procurement of maize.
Chaponda who now faces calls to resign as minister following reports of dubious transactions made in the purchase of maize disclosed that his involvement in procurement of maize was minimal but according to President Peter Mutharika the minister was a big part of the deal.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Chaponda disclosed that that he visited Zambia twice for the purchase of staple grains.
“On 18th May, 2016, I led a three man delegation to the Republic of Zambia where I held a meeting with my counterpart, the Minister of Agriculture who gave us an approval to buy at least 100,000 MT of maize against our planned 300,000 MT. I came back to Malawi on 19th May, 2016 and I left the team to contact the relevant suppliers. Upon return to Malawi, the team informed my office that the trip was futile as they had identified only one supplier whose price was exorbitant, at USD395/tonne. As such, no agreement was made”
“On 11th December, 2016, as a special Envoy of the President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, I led a delegation to meet the President of Republic of Zambia on the export of maize to Malawi due to the fact that, a contract was already signed between the ZCF and ADMARC.
“I arrived in the Republic of Zambia on the same day, met the President of the Republic of Zambia and thereafter attended a Press Briefing conducted by my counterpart, the Minister of Agriculture in Zambia during which she announced that the Government of Zambia had approved export of 100,000 MT of maize to Malawi. I came back from that trip on 12th December, 2016,” reads part of the statement.
However President Peter Mutharika is on record to have said that he talked to Chaponda on 21st October 2016 while he was in Zambia when he held a press briefing after United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 2016.
“I just got a call from honourable Chaponda about 30 minutes ago that he has signed an agreement with the President of Zambia for 100,000 metric tonnes of maize just today,” said Mutharika at Kamuzu palace in Lilongwe.