The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) board yesterday met in Blantyre to find a way forward on the maize deal that has raised fears that government officials, including a Cabinet minister, may have indulged in corruption.

Admarc board chairperson James Masumbu in an interview yesterday confirmed the meeting took place to discuss the Zambia maize deal, adding an agreement was made to issue a statement by Monday to explain to Malawians what the board discussed.

“We met at our Admarc Headquarters, but all I can say is that we will explain everything in the press statement we have agreed to issue by Monday,” Masumbu said.

Under pressure to resign: Mulumbe

The board meeting took place amid calls from different sectors including civil society organisations that have called for the resignation or firing of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister Gorge Chaponda and Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe who are implicated in the maize scam.

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) yesterday said it is essential that the maize deal which has so far given rise to suspicion of criminal impropriety be pursued by appropriate law enforcement agencies.

In a statement signed by its president John Suzi Banda and honorary secretary Khumbo Soko, the society said there is a need for law enforcement agencies that are both credible and independent to probe the matter.

Reads MLS statement in part: “The society would like to reiterate its recent call on the authorities to make the deliberate effort to adequately capacitate appropriate law enforcement agencies and ensure that only the most capable, honest and patriotic Malawians are charged with the high responsibility of leading these institutions.

“Malawians’ sustained trust in these institutions is dependent on these institutions and those that lead them exercising their functions independently without external interference, fear or favour.”

Malawi Watch, a local civil rights organisation, yesterday also called on Malawians to be patient as the Commission of Inquiry investigates the controversial maize deal between State grain trader Admarc and Zambian private company, Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd.

President Peter Mutharika on Sunday instituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the scam in which Admarc reportedly bought maize at K26 billion from the Zambian company and it is believed that Malawi could have saved about K9.5 billion if it had bought the grain directly from the Zambian government.

The use of a middleman, Kaloswe, is raising suspicion when Malawi government is on record to have said Chaponda was in discussion with the Zambian government over the maize deal, and at some point, engaged in discussions directly with Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

Both Chaponda and Mulumbe have denied any wrong doing in the alleged scam.

In a press statement released on Thursday and signed by its executive director Billy Banda, Malawi Watch said Mutharika’s move to form the Commission of Inquiry is commendable because it is the only neutral solution and intervention to the alleged scam.

The statement reads in part: “By applying principles of natural justice, the accused people in this alleged scam remain innocent until they are proven guilty.  Thus, we call for patience among Malawians and all other interested stakeholders to be patient and calm as the commission is doing its job.”

Presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalirani in an earlier interview said Malawians should allow the commission to work because it comprises people of highest integrity in society.

The commission is being chaired by former Chief Justice Anastazia Msosa, Solicitor General Janet Banda, auditor Isaac Kayira and Mike Chinoko. n

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