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Talking Blues: K10billion richer, K10billion poorer

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Times and several Zambian publications have reported how we lost USD13, 000,000 (or approximately K10billion) in the procurement of 100,000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia.
The long and short of it is that after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government created hunger by refusing the opposition’s advice to contract Illovo to cultivate maize using its massive irrigation potential for sale to Admarc after the lean 2014/15 season, Malawi found herself short of maize.
After a lot of huffing and puffing with Brazil, Mexico and other faraway countries being mentioned as potential suppliers, Malawi finally decided on neighbouring Zambia.
For reasons no-one has explained, a middleman, Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd, quietly slithered into the deal.
Ironically, despite tonnes of evidence, Malawian and their counterpart Zambian counterparts have tried lies, press conferences, and all tricks in the book; to reject Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd’s role.
And yet, documents clearly show that Kaloswe Ltd bought the maize from ZCF at $215 per metric tonne before reselling it to Admarc at $345 per metric tonne.
The joint Malawi and Zambian Governments deceit almost succeeded, until Zambia’s Opposition Leader, Saviour Chishimba, took it upon himself to bring the culprits to book by hook or crook.
The bottom line is: on behalf of Admarc, we borrowed K26billion to avert the DPP-made hunger, hunger that could have been avoided by contracting Illovo to grow maize locally.
Since Admarc needs to repay this ballooned loan, it has hiked maize prices from K5,000 to K12,500 per 50kg bag; effectively making itself uncompetitive on the local market and creating yet another time bomb.
Blues’ Orators, since our gallant media has done the donkey work; our role is to dissect the four not-so-obvious issues from this saga.
The first is our tendency to borrow money to feed corruption.
Look at this: that Peter Mutharika borrowed to feed starving Malawians is not the issue.
The issue is: who, in their right minds, spend K26billion (approximately USD35million) on 100,000metric tonnes?
The answer is: only crooks do that.
If the minister in charge of ‘maize gate’ and others weren’t looking for a K10billion cut, USD21.5million or K16billion was enough to buy the same quantity of maize.
This would have saved the K10billion.
The problem is: Peter Mutharika and his corrupt cronies would have had nothing to ‘chew’.
But since they will need these funds to woo us again in 2019 elections, it is fine.
They can steal K10billion, which we will all repay with interest. Come campaign time, they will throw some crumbs our way and we will thank them for their ‘generosity’ with our votes.
What else can we do?
Well, there is always the opposition. We can just conveniently blame the opposition for approving the loan and stop there.
But the questions are: how many in the village can afford the exorbitant K12, 500 per bag? Again, wouldn’t it have been more prudent to invest the stolen K10billion in our collapsed public health system or under-funded public education system?
The second truth is that apart from the private media, we are on our own.
While Zambia’s Opposition Leader, Saviour Chishimba, blew the whistle which prompted our media to follow up; local institutions and individuals have remained indifferent.
No-one is talking about marching.
To date, our eloquent President-in-Wa
iting, Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera, in Mutharika’s head-deep-in-sand style, is too busy building his mansion to demand justice.
While Chishimba in Zambia is compiling evidence to escalate the matter to Comesa Competition Commission; the Malawi Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture is thinking about allowances.
This committee wants to meet to ‘recommend the formation of the commission of inquiry to probe the deal’. In aid of what?
Blues Orators, has a Commission of Inquiry ever put food on our tables? Has any commission resulted in conviction of the high-level criminals running Malawi down?
And as if that was not enough, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)’s hands are tied on ‘maize-gate’ because according to Madame Egrita Mdala, nobody has lodged a complaint with the bureau.
Total nonsense.
The third issue is hypocrisy.
As we speak, Mr Kamoto, embattled Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and his Finance Director are on forced leave.
Their crime? ‘Misleading’ Mera board to procure maize.
Mind you, Mera bought the maize (be it using the wrong vote) at reasonable prices as compared to this Chaponda/ Mulumbe scam.
Now while Mera, following Dr Goodal Gondwe’s bidding cracked the whip on the Mera management in a transaction approved by the board with no additional burden to the tax payer; in the ADMARC saga, Foster Mulumbe, the ADMARC CEO is enjoying unlimited airtime defending the scam on state media.
Going by the published reports, Mulumbe singlehandedly transacted with the middleman in Zambia without recourse to the board as is required in high value transactions.
But because Mulumbe facilitated a K10 billion cut, he is, in as far as the DPP government in concerned, a ‘good boy’ and Kamoto, a ‘villain’.
The fourth and final issue Blues’ Orators is that the minister presiding over this mess, Dr George Chaponda left the Foreign Affairs ministry mired in the yet to be concluded Addis Ababa cashgate which saw some diplomats recalled.
He was also tainted with that dubious contract with a Washington DC lobbying firm.
Here he is, at it again at the Ministry of Agriculture. Are all these mere coincidences or should we rethink his integrity?
Happy New Year 2017!
I have omitted the traditional ‘prosperous’ because, let’s face it, with thieves ruling and impunity reigning, prosperity is a farfetched dream for the majority and only a reality for thieves pocketing K10billions at our expense.
Thanks to ‘maize gate’, crooks are now K10billion richer and laughing all the way to the bank as the majority wallows deeper in abject poverty.
An end in sight for this thievery? It is all up to you.

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