Zambia’s opposition leader Dr Saviour Chishimba has hailed Malawi’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika for appointing a Commission of Inquiry on maize procurement allegations.
Chishimba, who is also the President of United Progress Party (UPP)has since asked Zambian President Edgar Lungu to borrow a leaf from his Malawian counterpart and investigate the matter too.
Following the allegations, President Mutharika moved in swiftly and appointed a Commission of Inquiry to probe into the matters surrounding the procurement of maize by the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) from the neighbouring Zambia.
The Commissioners are Retired Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa SC; the Public Auditor Isaac Kayira; Solicitor General Dr Janet Banda and Mr Mike Chinoko as Secretary to the Commission.
According to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), the Commissioners commenced their work on 1st January 2017 and have been given 30 days to do their work and submit their findings by 31st January,2017.
Chishimba, the Zambian opposition leader therefore praised President Mutharika for taking action to clear the mist on the maize procurement allegations.
“In the interest of natural justice, we decided to give the PF-MMD Government up to the end of 2016 before seeking a tribunal to probe Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe, Minister of Commerce and her agriculture counterpart Hon. Dora Siliya. This also includes the submission of the report to the COMESA Competition Commission for action.
“We are happy that the Malawian media, Church and Civil Society Organisations including foreign missions accredited to Malawi have since our exposition of the scandal and circulation of evidence never rested to fight for action from government.
“Their efforts have yielded positive results as reported in the media that President Peter Mutharika of Malawi has appointed a commission of inquiry. He must emulate his Malawian counterpart before UPP takes actions that will be embarrassing to government. It would appear to us that President Edgar Lungu has endorsed corruption as a way of running public affairs,” said Chishimba in statement in our possession.
He further claimed that the “corruption on maize exports” is happening at the time that hunger is looming in Zambia due to the outbreak of army worms, delayed supply of inputs to farmers and delayed payments to some farmers for the last farming season.
Chishimba said the exploitation of farmers which has gone on unabated must stop forthwith in Zambia.
According to the opposition leader, huge profits from the exportation of maize show that it’s the corrupt government officials who are benefiting on the sweat and blood of peasant farmers.
The UPP leader also warned against the transformation of state house into a centre of corruption and the awarding of public contracts.
“It’s very difficult for the President to act when his top level friends in government are involved and this is the reason why we continue to appeal for transparency and accountability in the running of government.
“The President cannot afford to be the presiding officer of corruption because the country will end up in the mode of “each one for himself/herself and God for us all”.
The “it’s our time to eat”(TULILEPO) and “here we are for ourselves” (SANGWAPO) mentalities have become the modus operandi for running government,” he asserted.
He promised to continue to providing checks and balances, claiming his desire is to make sure that Zambia remains on the right track.
Following the last year’s dry spell that saw Malawi registering low harvests, the government of President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has been sourcing the staple food, maize from local and international markets to stalk pile in its storage facilities so that no Malawian dies of hunger.
Zambia was identified as one source of the maize where the country’s state owned agricultural produce company, Admarc procured 100,000metric tonnes of maize through another state owned agency the Zambia Cooperative Federation.
Apart from the Zambia opposition leader Saviour Chishimba, back home in Malawi several quarters have praised President Mutharika for swiftly moving in on the maize matter.
They include reputable political scientist Dr Blessings Chisinga of the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College and Lucky Mbewe of the NGO Grand Coalition.
They both applauded President Arthur Peter Mutharika for appointing the Commission and further putting in people who command great respect from the Malawian public.
The two commentators also commended President Mutharika for giving the Commission 30 days to do the job and report back on their findings.