Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda has made revelations that contradict with what Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) boss Foster Mulumbe said on what transpired in the purchase of maize from Zambia.
Chaponda appeared before the joint Parliamentary committee of public accounts and on agriculture on Wednesday in Lilongwe.
However in his submissions, the minister made statements that have not gone in line with what Mulumbe told the same hearing two weeks ago.
His statements did not also tally with what the Zambian Cooperative Federation (ZCF) told the committee at a hearing in Zambia a week ago.
Mulumbe told the committee that Admarc wanted just 100, 000 metric tonnes of maize yet Chaponda claims government wanted up to 300,000 metric tonnes of maize.
On the part of ZCF, Chaponda said the company had inadequate maize in stock yet the same company told the lawmakers who travelled to Zambia last week that they had plenty of maize in stock.
The Minister also went ahead to say that in the deal, ZCF determined the price of its maize. However ZCF claimed that it was Admarc that had set the price.
Another notable thing on the deals was a contract Admarc had Kaloswe – a Zambian company which was used as a middleman in the maize deal.
Chaponda said Admarc did not tell him anything concerning the company. He however said what he knows is that the Admarc’s contract with Kaloswe was cancelled because the company is not ‘trustworthy.
The Minister claimed that his involvement in the whole maize deals only centred on policy guidance.
At some point he mentioned that he had travelled to Zambia in October last year where he talked to President Edgar Lungu to soften the maize export ban on maize in Zambia so that Malawi would manage to purchase maize from there.
‘’You must understand that we had to do anything to have the maize. I acted in a way meant to save Malawi from hunger,’’ he said.
According to Chaponda, President Lungu had given Malawi a condition that the deal be a ‘government to government understanding.’
Asked on why he broke protocol in the processes the Minister said: ‘’ I broke no protocol. We worked so hard to save Malawi.’’
How the scandal began
Leaked documents showed that Admarc used a private Zambian company that was deemed to be more expensive than if the deal were government-to-government.
Admarc insisted that it was buying the staple grain from ZCF a government agency.
According to figures seen in documents, Admarc paid $34.5 million (about K26 billion) for the maize, which is $13 million (about K9.5 billion) more than the $21.5 million (about K15 billion) it could have paid had it bought the maize from Zambian government.
Malawi government obtained a loan of K26 billion from the Eastern and Southern African Development Bank (PTA Bank) to purchase 100, 000 metric tonnes of maize from government of Zambia through ZCF.
Government claimed that maize price was hiked from around K5000 to K12,500 per 50 kg bag to enable Admarc repay the loan.