Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has called on Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe to resign, saying his ministry reduced the number of Affordable Input Programme (AIP) beneficiaries without consulting President Lazarus Chakwera and this has cost taxpayers money.
Executive Director of Chairperson of the organization Sylvester Namiwa has made the demands in a letter dated August 21.
In a July 21 circular, Secretary for Irrigation, Sandram Maweru told District Commissioners that about 1 million farmers would be removed from AIP. Maweru said the number of beneficiaries was to be reduced from 3.8 million to 2.7 million because of financial constraints and rising prices of fertilizer.
Last week, President Lazarus Chakwera told Malawians that no farmer will be removed from the program.
According to Namiwa, CDEDI investigations have shown that all the district councils responded to Maweru’s circular by moving into the scaling down exercise where the number of beneficiaries in some villages was trimmed to 6 farming families only.
“It is a known fact that taxpayers’ money was used to undertake this very costly exercise, in the form of fuel, stationery and allowances,” said Namiwa.
He noted that President Chakwera by publicly nullifying the ministry’s decision, gave an impression that he was not party to the directive, and neither was he consulted on the matter.
“Now that we know the scaling down exercise was not sanctioned by President Chakwera, then Malawians are justified to say that you made a unilateral decision, which has cost the taxpayers huge sums of money,” said Namiwa.
He went on to say that the minister should have resigned immediately after the public address was made by Chakwera, since the president’s remarks smelt a vote of no confidence in him as the responsible Minister of Agriculture.
Namiwa added that the president’s directive has also soiled Lowe’s credibility in the eyes of the district council authorities, who will be hesitant to abide by any instructions from your office in future.
“Hence the more reason CDEDI is calling for your resignation, in a bid to protect your integrity”, He said.
CDEDI has also given Lowe seven days to make publicly, a detailed statement, justifying his decision to scale down the number of AIP beneficiaries.