President Lazarus Chakwera has fired Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe as chairperson the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) Committee amid revelations that Government has been duped out of K750 million meant for the AIP.
Chakwera has since appointed Minister of Lands Sam Kawale as the new chairperson of the committee.
Commenting on the change, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said it does not mean that there is lack of trust in Lowe.
According to Kazako, it is normal for a minister to lead a committee in another ministry.
However, despite Kazako’s claims, the change points to a loss of trust in Lowe.
Earlier this year, Chakwera warned Lowe that he would be fired if his ministry failed to deliver fertilizer to farmers by September.
“I have told the minister of Agriculture and I wish to repeat. If we get to September and I see that you and your team are not ready with preparations for AIP, and inputs are not in the country, you will have served notice for your job. We will have to try another team,” Chakwera said at a rally.
Currently, fertilizer is yet to be delivered and there are fears government lost about K750 million which it paid to a London based butchery for fertilizer procurement.
The butchery, Barkaat Foods Limited, was hired as a middleman for fertilizer procurement but after receiving the funds, it cancelled the deal saying it could not deliver the fertilizer.
Ministry of Agriculture said last week that the money would be refunded by the end of October this year.
Opposition politicians and social commentators have since faulted government for making such a huge payment without conducting due diligence. There are also claims that the actual amount lost is K30 billion.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that the government will meet 90 AIP suppliers for a pre-qualification session in Lilongwe.
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