Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa has asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to institute investigations into the alleged K30 billion fertilizer purchase scam and he has called on President Lazarus Chakwera to fire agriculture minister Lobin Lowe.
Nankhumwa made the call on Thursday October 13 during a press briefing in Blantyre where he also announced plans to organise nationwide demonstrations over prolonged social economic challenges and the worsening of corruption in Malawi.
The DPP vice president for the south said it is very disturbing that the Ministry of Agriculture has just lost MK30 billion to conmen who disguised themselves as fertilizer suppliers and later vanished without trace.
He said this is unprecedented in the history of government procurement when every Ministry has a full Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) which he said is put in place to ensure that all procurement due-diligence processes are carried out including supplier audits to ensure that the government is not duped.
The opposition leader wondered how could it happen that a supplier for such a big consignment managed to vanish without trace and he suspects that there was a breach of supplier audit procedures which might have led to the national scam.
“Where is the physical location of this supplier, and how is it that procurement officers for such a big consignment do not know the physical address of the supplier? This is a national scandal, to say the least, and I cannot begin to imagine how the whole Ministry can be conned in such a manner,” wondered Nankhumwa.
While pointing a finger at President Chakwera and minister Lowe for their silence on the matter, Nankhumwa called on the Malawi grafting body, ACB to intervene and investigate the matter and bring to book anyone who might have contributed to the scam.
“Elsewhere, heads would have rolled to show seriousness on the matter. But as usual, President Lazarus Chakwera and the responsible Minister are all sleeping and behaving like nothing has happened. The immediate noble thing for Lowe is to resign or get fired because he has practically failed.
“There are so many unanswered questions on this one, and a scenario of collusion to defraud government cannot be ruled out. I wish to request the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to immediately institute an investigation into this scandal and bring to book all culprits within the shortest period of time,” said Nankhumwa.
He added that by now, the government should have released the Agriculture Input Program (AIP) for this year’s growing season, including giving contracts to suppliers of farm inputs.
He further said that with the scam, nobody knows whether AIP will actually happen this year or not.
Nankhumwa continued by saying that the news about looming hunger next year is now a forgone conclusion because apart from the high prices, fertilizer is also not available on the market even for those who can afford to buy the commodity.
The DPP vice president further wondered why the Malawi government is silent on information he has that Morocco has given Malawi a fertilizer grant of up to 10, 000 metric tons and he suspects that someone from government wants to use the grant for personal benefits.
“I am reliably informed that Morocco has given Malawi a grant of 10, 000 metric tons of fertilizer for this year’s farming season, but the government has chosen to be silent about it. Why? Actually, I think someone wants to use this fertilizer for their own personal benefit,” he wondered.
He further said these disturbing events coming in rapid succession have caused more pain to Malawians under the Tonse Alliance’s watch and are a true indication that there is no figurehead to provide leadership and hope to Malawians at this very critical time.
Follow us on Twitter: