Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), a company contracted by the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to supply maize to Malawi, on Wednesday shocked members of a joint parliamentary committee probing the dubious maize deal, when the company’s officials disclosed that Admarc is the one that pegged the maize price at $345 per metric tonne.
ZCF Executive Director, James Chirwa, who represented the company during the inquiry underway in the copper-rich nation told the eight-member delegation that contrary to statements by Admarc Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Foster Chataika Mulumbe, that the price was put forward by ZCF, it was in fact proposed by the Malawi state grain marketer.
ZCF officials according to Chairperson of the joint committee, Joseph Chidanti- Malunga, also disowned a tax invoice which purportedly originated from ZCF for the clearing of over 1,000 metric tonnes of the grain.
“We have found a number of massive discrepancies and one thing I can flag out is that the agent who cleared maize on behalf of Admarc presented fake documents to MRA. Ideally, those documents carried ZCF logo which ZCF refused originated from them. Basically, forged and fake documents were used to pre-clear the 100,000 metric tonnes” Chidanti-Malunga said.
He added that the committee has also realised that Mulumbe lied when he appeared before the committee in Lilongwe where he said that contracts for ZCF and Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Limited were signed on the same date June 17 2016.
Said Chidanti-Malunga: “In Malawi, Admarc told us that both Kaloswe and ZCF contracts were signed on 17th June 2016, but ZCF said when they signed the contract on the 17th [June], there was already an existing contract between Admarc and Kaloswe.”
It has also been uncovered that the Malawi High Commission in Zambia was sidelined in the deal as officials at the embassy revealed that they only know of two dates which are May 18 2016 and October 21 2016 when the staff at the office were asked by Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate a visit by beleaguered Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda.
Chidanti Malunga, therefore, observed that basing on the information from the office, it means Admarc made its own visits without the knowledge of the embassy.
The MPs have also established that Admarc officials also lied on 45 tonnes of rotten maize which were found at Chilambula Admarc Depot and are reported to have been sent back to ZCF.
But ZCF officials expressed ignorance of any rotten maize adding that the company never received any maize that was rejected.
Meanwhile, the committee is today scheduled to question officials from Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Limited. And tomorrow it will meet Dr Saviour Chishimba who is leader of opposition in Zambia who has vowed to nail down what he called corrupt leaders in both Malawian and Zambian governments.
So far only 4,112 tonnes have been supplied by ZCF out of the 100,000 metric tonnes.
The country borrowed K24 billion from PTA Bank to purchase the staple grain in the wake of hunger that has affected the country.