JB Caught Pants Down: Ombudsman’s Report Implicates Former Leader,Her 2013 Cabinet in Tractor-gate
Former President Joyce Banda presided over yet another misappropriation of public resources, according to a report compiled by the country’s Ombudsman Martha Chizuma- Mwangonde on an investigations into allegations of maladministration and related irregularities on the purchase and disposal of Farm Machinery under India line of credit worth 50 million United States Dollars.
On top of hailing the late president Bingu wa Mutharika for initiating and negotiating the loan, the report further faulted his successor Joyce Banda for initiating the unlawful distribution of the machinery.
The report noted that from June 2012 to April 2013 the MoA (Ministry of Agriculture) was hesitating selling the machinery “until they were reminded to sell the tractors through Cabinet Paper Reference number CAB7/11 dated 22nd April, 2013 codifying discussions of the cabinet meeting of April 2013. However no action was taken until they were reminded again by Cabinet in July 2013,”
The report says according to the reminder of April 2013: “ Cabinet observed that the 100 tractors and allied implements were staying idle at the Plant and Vehicle Hire Organisation (PVHO) and that any further delay in utilizing them could result in appreciable deterioration, engine cease and economic loss to Government.”
The report then noted that: “It is also imperative to state atb this stage that during the investigation we found that following a Presidential Directive by Dr. Joyce Banda in or about 2012, the MoA allocated 10 tractors to Mbalachanda in Mzimba where some Caucasian farmers opened a farm of about 100 hectors to cultivate soya beans.
“This is not the only incident where the
Ministry allocated a tractor based on a verbal Presidential Directive Dr. Joyce Banda directed Machinga ADD to give a tractor to Lipinda farm but this programme was also abandoned and a village Chief, (Tanato Anderson from Liwanika Village) has refused to return the tractor to the ADD and continues to use it as his personal property.”
The report, titled ‘The Present Toiling, The Future Overburdened’ was carried out in response to two compalaints lodged, before the office of the ombudsman, between April and May 2016.