Under fire Agriculture Minister George Chaponda has been accused by the commission of inquiry of reaching some decisions personally in the procurement of maize from Zambia.
The committee, which was appointed by Malawi leader Peter Mutharika following allegations of malpractices in the way Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) purchased maize from Zambia, submitted its report to the President on Saturday morning in Lilongwe.
Chaired by the former Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa SC, the commission established that Chaponda personally asked ADMARC to buy the maize from Transglobe, a Malawian company with maize stocks in Chipata.
“The Minister personally asked ADMARC to buy maize from Transglobe, a Malawian company with maize stocks in Chipata. This request was rejected by ADMARC which had already signed a contract with ZFC. “ADMARC confirmed that Transglobe indeed approached them on several occasions on this matter.”
“Secondly, the Minister advised Transglobe to go and meet officials in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia to negotiate an export permit to supply part of the 100,000 metric tons of maize that was agreed in the contract between ADMARC and ZFC,” reads part of the statement.
The report has also revealed that Transglobe indeed approached the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia to obtain export permits through their agent Zdenakie Commodities.
According to the report, the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia notified Managing Director of Transglobe that an agreement was reached to transport 50, 000 metric tons of maize in the name of Transglobe.
“A letter confirming this arrangement was written by Transglobe’s Operations Director, Rashid Tayub, to the Department in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia dated 12th December 2016.
“This letter advised the Department that the allocation of 50,000 metric tons to Transglobe would be exported under the ZFC contract since the Letter of Credit was in the name of ZFC. The letter further advised that Transglobe had agreed to work with ZCF to export a total of 100,000 metric tons from Zambia,” reads the statement.
The report also questioned the timing of Chaponda’ visit to Zambia as a special envoy at a time when Transglobe’ Director were also in the country.
“The commission also established that when Hon, Chaponda went to Zambia as a special envoy, Tayub of Transglobe was also in Zambia meeting with officials in the Ministry of Agriculture.”
“The commission found two notable things about this development. First, the export ban was lifted, second, the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia issued export licences to both ZFC and Transglobe splitting the contract tonnage of 100,000 metric tons that was contracted between ZFC and ADMARC in equal share of 50,000 metric tons with Transglobe. “This development cannot be attributed to coincidence. It raises suspicion in relation to dealings between the Minister and Transglobe. One can therefore not rule out the possibility of corrupt dealings between the two parties,” continued the statement.
Meanwhile Mutharika has promised to look into the commission of inquiry’ findings. Chaponda was officially removed as the leader of house in Parliament last week.
He was also served with a court injunction by Mzuzu High Court to stop discharging his duties as the Agriculture Minister until the results of the commission of inquiry was released.
However, the injunction was vacated by the High Court in Blantyre on Friday.