President Mutharika Given Findings By Inquiry On Maizegate: Recommends ACB To Investigate Chaponda, Discipline ADMARC Officials
The Commission of Inquiry on the Zambia-Malawi maize saga Saturday called for a probe on Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, and disciplinary action to ADMARC management for their roles in the maize deal.
Presenting its findings to President Prof. Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe the Chairperson of the Commission, Chief Justice Anastanzia Msosa SC, faulted the minister’s involvement with Trans Globe Limited saying it smacked corruption.
She also faulted the ADMARC for taking short-cuts in the procurement of the maize and in the handling of contracts with the Zambian traders.
“We found that the procurement of the maize was flouted with discrepancies in such that government procedures were not followed and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as government’s legal advisor was by-passed,” read Msosa, adding that ADMARC was “grossly negligent” in the way it handled the contracts.
On Chaponda, Msosa said the Commission found that “the conduct of the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in dealing with Trans Globe Limited to sell maize to ADMARC was suspicious”.
The Commission in its recommendations called for further investigation on Chaponda by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on his involvement with Trans Globe Limited and that disciplinary action be taken on ADMARC management for contracts “fraudulently entered into”.
On other findings Msosa said the Commission was convinced that no money exchanged hands because the conditions of the Letter of Credit that was issued had some conditions that had to be full-filled yet before payment.
She said it also came to light that ADMARC had gone into contract with Kaloswe Commuter Courier of Zambia first and then ADMARC assigned Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) as a tripartite venture.
According to the Commission, ADMARC and ZCF decided to leave out Kaloswe later on the way but, Msosa said the Commission had established that none of the two Zambian business outfits had maize, except for the 4,000 Metric Tons that ZCF managed to send to Malawi out of the needed 100,000 Metric Tons.
The Commission also advised that government must always ensure a minimum of 75,000 Metric Tons food reserve in the country’s silos.
In his response, President Mutharika welcomed the report and thanked the Commission “for doing a thorough job” saying Malawians had been waiting for the truth on the matter.
Mutharika commissioned the inquiry into the maize saga in January following media revelations in Zambia and Malawi that there were underhand dealings in the procurement of the maize from Zambia to Malawi.
He told the four-member Commission upon taking oath on January 6 “to get to the bottom of the matter and come up with the truth,” adding that as President, he would “not act on rumours but facts”.