At a time when analysts say Malawi is making promising strides to c, government is required to settle a debt amounting to 46 billion kwacha which emanated from the Joyce Banda era.
The debt is said to have come through the failure by the Banda regime to pay the said amount to four fertilizer suppliers contracted under the Farm Input Loan Programme (Filp).
The programme which was halted in September, 2014 after Banda lost in that year’s election was aimed at helping farmers who were not targeted through the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) to achieve food security at household level.
The halting of the programme came, according to government, due to huge outstanding bills that the government needed to pay fertilizer suppliers and warehouse owners.
Initially, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe told parliament that the financial and legal problems that arose from the programme left government with no option but to suspend the programme – which when it was being introduced, critics argued was meant to assist Banda in campaigning in the 2014 polls.
But three years down the line, government has not yet settled the debt.
The four companies, according to a recent report by amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, were contracted to supply 75,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, which farmers would purchase through a loan facility provided by government’s Malawi Rural Development Fund (Mardef).
They are US-based Export Trading Group (ETG) which is owed MK20 billion, Tanzania-based Sealand Investments which is owed MK16.7 billion, Midima Produce owed MK10.8 billion and South Africa’s Bosveld Phosphates which is owed MK14.1 billion.
The Peter Mutharika led government has incessantly said it is not ready to harbour troubles initiated by Banda although the former Malawi president has overtime claimed she is being politically haunted by the current leadership.
She echoed the same sentiments recently when the Malawi Police Service issued a warrant of arrest for her over alleged abuse of office and money laundering offences during the two-year period she was in office.
Banda who remains outside Malawi since her loss in 2014 has maintained her innocence claiming the Mutharika government is more concerned with portraying her as a ‘thief’ and therefore denting her political image.