The joint parliamentary committee probing the dubious maize deal has gathered that the Zambian Cooperative Federation (ZCF) paid for the funeral expenses of the late George Bakuwa including repatriation of the body to Malawi.
Bakuwa, who was Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) company secretary died while on a maize procurement assignment in Zambia. This was his last assignment as an Admarc official as he had just been sworn in as High Court judge.
Leader of the Malawi delegation Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said in an exclusive interview from Lusaka, yesterday, that the committee has developed an interest in the death after the issue kept on being referred to by those appearing before the legislators.
Chidanti-Malunga explained that ZCF officials admitted to have paid for the expenses perhaps as courtesy since Bakuwa was one of government officials who the company was dealing with in the procurement of the 100,000 metric tonnes of maize.
“We have been told that ZCF arranged payment for the expenses of everything including transport and we are wondering how this was possible because we expected government to have handled that. So, we have arranged some unofficial meetings on Friday [today] with some people to share us some details on what they know,” he said.
In a related development, Director General of Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Limited, Felix Nyirongo, Thursday claimed that Admarc officials persuaded Kaloswe to alter some clauses in the contract so that payment should be made through ZCF.
The revelation contradicts what Admarc Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, told Parliament that it was Kaloswe which suggested that the Letter of Credit amounting to $34.5 million should be in favour of ZCF.
According to Nyirongo, once the contract was altered Admarc officials, kicked Kaloswe out of the deal.
“Admarc asked Kaloswe to agree to an addendum to change the contract. ZCF is now enjoying the LC facility because they can use it as collateral to borrow money from their bank. At the time Kaloswe agreed because it thought it was based on good intentions but later discovered that the plan was to kick out the company from the deal,” Chidanti- Malunga said.
Commenting on findings by Consumers’ Association of Malawi (Cama) that no payment was made to ZCF, Malunga said the type of LC issued is known as Site LC and is the same as money and, therefore, findings by Cama do not hold.
Kaloswe also revealed that a woman, identified as Grace Mhango, is the one who acted as a broker between Admarc and Kaloswe. Mhango is also suspected to have connected Admarc to ZCF at the expense of Kaloswe.
Meanwhile, Kaloswe Limited has told the meeting that it is proceeding with its plans to file a lawsuit against Admarc for being duped in the deal.
The committee is today scheduled to wrap up its three days stay in Zambia by hearing testimony from leader of United Progressive Party (UPP) Saviour Chishimba.