Activists say Chakwera should apologise for promising Malawians cheap fertilizer

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The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has demanded President Lazarus Chakwera to apologise because he promised Malawians that they would be buying fertilizer under Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) at K4,500 per 50 Kg bag but the price of the fertilizer is now at K15,000 per bag.

In a statement today, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said Chakwera is departing from his campaign promises citing the AIP taskforce’s announcement on upward adjustment of fertiliser prices as an example.

During campaign period, Chakwera promised that fertiliser price will not be selling at more than MK4,500 per 50-kilogramme bag but the AIP taskforce has announced that this year these needy Malawians will have to top up each bag with MK15,000 from K7,500 last year.

“With the writing clearly on the wall that incomes of these Malawians have remained stagnant, if not worsened, in the past two years, where will they get the extra K10,500?

“Therefore, the President should be reminded that at the height of the campaign for the June 23, 2020 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election, he acknowledged, in Mzuzu, that some farming families in the country cannot afford a bag of fertilizer, even at MK4,500. He, actually, promised free fertilizer to such citizens. Now, what evidence is there that such people’s economic fortunes have improved that they can now afford to contribute K15,000 towards their AIP fertilizer,” said Namiwa.

He added that the bottom line is that the President has not lived up to his promises.

“The honourable thing to do is to bite his lower lip and apologise to Malawians for the blue lie about cheap fertilizer,” said Namiwa.

Over the weekend, the AIP committee also announced that Malawi has received 10,000 metric tonnes of blended fertilizer from Morocco which will be produced into 52,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer. The committee added that another 20,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer has come from World Food Program (WFP) and is set to benefit 200,000 Malawians and African Development Bank (ADB) has also given Malawi another 20,000 metric tonnes to benefit 200,000 other beneficiaries.

Namiwa in his statement has questioned how the fertiliser donation of 95, 000 metric tonnes fits into AIP which has already lost budgeted hundreds of millions of kwacha to fraud.

“At least just brief the nation on how this donation will transparently benefit Malawians. This silence is very strange, but not surprising. In the absence of such important information, who cannot be tempted to fear that this fertilizer will grow wings and disappear from the warehouses, or get sold to the same Malawians well-wishers have given it for free,” queries Namiwa.

Namiwa has also reminded authorities to explain to the nation the status of the maize situation in the country in the wake of the sky-rocketing prices of the staple grain, and the closure of the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC).

The calls by CDEDI are coming after recently, Malawians had a rude awakening following a leaked Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) circular making rounds on the social media suggesting plans by government to import maize.

According to Namiwa, the development is both strange and laughable because it is within this very growing season that Malawians were told that the country had realized a maize surplus which it intends to export to Zimbabwe as grain, and to South Sudan as flour.

“To say the least, importing maize months after we were happily told that we had registered a surplus of the same, will yet be another proof of how clueless the leadership of our country is. Surely, the President owes Malawians an explanation on these issues. Burying his head in the sand will not help matters,” he said.

He has also expressed concern over the current economic situation whereby the private sector is struggling to get foreign exchange to resuscitate the production industry.

“And in such a situation, now we should be looking for forex to import maize, really? Our fear is that this maize to be imported is the same that was stolen in transit from ADMARC to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA). So, we are of the fearful view that we will be buying our own maize and, in the process, milking dry the little forex that could have been used to buy other essential commodities, such as medicines,” said Namiwa.

In the statement, Namiwa has also claimed that President Lazarus Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration create unnecessary crises in order to gain cheap popularity and monetary benefits for trying to ‘solve’ the same.

Chakwera has been reminded that his ascension to leadership was based on a promise to fix the country and not otherwise.

“Therefore, his leadership should be seen to be built on integrity in order to earn and sustain the trust of the electorate. It is shocking to note that the President is running a counterfeit government clearly mirrored through State-sponsored corruption with impunity and arrogance. Sadly, now Chakwera’s government has mastered the art of creating crises to benefit under the guise of solving such bottle necks,” said Namiwa.

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