Malawi president Peter Mutharika has extended the deadline for the Commission of Inquiry probing the K26 billion Zambia maize-gate scandal.

According to the press statement signed by the chairperson of the commission, former chief justice Anastasia Msosa, this is because the timeframe given to the commission at first was not enough.

Msosa said that Mutharika has extended their work to nine February from 31 January, 2017.

“It has pleased the President Peter Mutharika to grant extension to the commission. This is because of the nature of the inquiries and information to be analyzed,” reads part of the statement.

However, the maize deal has taken a new twist following fresh revelations sourced by the country’s fearless media house, Daily Times.

George Chaponda: at the centre of the dubious maize deal

In its edition of 30th January, the paper has indicated that Officials involved in the Maize deal between Malawi and Zambia had allegedly connived to deliver only a few tonnes of the mentioned 100,000 metric tonnes then furnish the nation with a bill for the entire tonnage of the grain.

The Daily Times’ information sourced from Zambia, Admarc planned to purchase only a few tonnes because the purported traders Zambia Cooperative Federation did not have the capacity to deliver the staple grain in the first place.

The information is in line with what Chief Executive Officer for Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Foster Mulumbe said while probed by members of a parliamentary joint committee of Agriculture and Public Accounts which is probing the dubious deal.

Mulumbe said that both Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd and ZCF, which were contracted to supply the maize, did not have the capacity raising questions as to why Admarc went ahead with the dubious deal.

“It’s very clear that ZCF could not manage to supply the 100,000 tonnes and so the question is why Admarc did sign such a contract when the supplier had no capacity? The plan was to move only few tonnes and pay for 100,000 tonnes.

ZCF is sourcing this maize from its members mostly from the eastern province which is closer to Malawi in order to reduce transport costs,” said the source as quoted by the Daily Times.

The source further added that ZCF is facing hurdles to get the stock from cooperative members because the profit margin is very tight.

Said the source, “They are sourcing the maize in the region of above $250-$285 per metric tonne, and Lusaka to Chipata transport cost is $85 per metric tonne, while Chipata to Lilongwe it is at least $38 per metric tonne. ZCF is cash-strapped to afford cash payments to its suppliers of maize .Farmer cooperatives in the country are demanding cash before they hand over stock to ZCF for the Malawi deal.”

Malawians, recently, had a rude awakening after learning that Admarc officials signed the contracts with Zambian companies without the knowledge of the Capital Hill.

This was revealed by Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani who appeared before the joint committee.

Government official have been contradicting each other regarding the maize deal.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the joint committee is expected to travel to Zambia on Tuesday to interview stakeholders involved in the deal.

Government borrowed K24 billion from PTA Bank for the purchase of the 100,000 metric tonnes of maize in the wake of hunger facing the country.

 

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