Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFRM) has revealed that it paid for Minister of Youth Richard Chimwendo Banda and Minister of National Unity Timothy Mtambo’s trip to South Africa where they went to search for fertilizer suppliers.
SFFRFM chief executive officer Richard Chikunkhuzeni revealed this today when he appeared before a joint parliamentary committee that is enquiring into the K750 million fertilizer deal.
He said Mtambo and Chimwendo Banda who are members of the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) together with Chikunkhuzeni and Principal Secretary for Agriculture travelled to South Africa to look for suppliers.
“We got communication from the ministry that this being an AIP engagement, the travel money must be paid by AIP account which is maintained at the fund,” said Chikunkhuzeni.
He added that the team did not find any supplier during the trip.
On why Chimwendo and Mtambo were part of the trip when they are not experts in the agriculture sector, Chikunkhuzeni said the decision to include the two was made by the AIP taskforce.
He was, however, at pains to explain how government decided pay $725 000 (about K750) to Barkaat Foods, a meat company based in the United Kingdom, for the procurement of fertilizer for the AIP.
The UK company cancelled the deal after receiving payment in two installments.
Chikunkhuzeni said government has recovered $188,250 about K200 million) from the $725 000 that was paid for the cancelled fertiliser deal.
He added that government is working on recovering the rest of the funds.
Officials from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) also appeared before the committee where they confirmed that the authority was bypassed in the procurement of the fertilizer.
The K750 million fertilizer deal has so far led to the firing of Malawi Congress Party politician Lobin Lowe as Minister of Agriculture.
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