Former vice-president Khumbo Kachali has backed the decision by the Joyce Banda administration dispose of farm equipment, including tractors, bought using a $50 million (about K37 billion) loan from India in 2011, saying it was not wrong and that he is also a beneficially and still using his tractor.
Kachali: I bought mine transparently The tractors that were auctioned off to Malawi government 'beneficiaries' for a pittance instead of given to farmers
There have been assertions that the equipment purchased by the Bingu wa Mutharika administration using a loan from the Exim Bank of India was archaic but Kachali ysaid the equipment is functioning and in good condition.
The sale of tractors and farm equipment meant to facilitate mechanisation of agriculture has caused an uproar in the country but government says it was a decision made by the previous cabinet and that each and every penny will be accounted for by December.
Said Kachali:"I indeed bought a tractor but I was not allowed to get it until I fully paid for it. This tractor is functioning and I am still using it. I had to buy this tractor because I needed such a machine to use at my farm."
Asked if he felt that the cabinet made a bad decision to sell the equipment, Kachali said, he was not part of the cabinet then but that everything was done transparently.
"There was a tender in the media, I expressed interest and I was successful so there is nothing wrong there,' said Kachali.
Humphrey Mvula a political and social commentator said that the the decision by
cabinet to sell the tractors shows that some individuals were greedy instead of protecting the taxpayer.
"The tractors were not supposed to be sold not being sold without following the right procedures and those who bought them should pay fully," said Mvula.
The tractors were meant for distribution to agriculture development divisions (ADDs) to enable smallholder farmers graduate to mechanisation by hiring the equipment. However, only 77 of the tractors were distributed to ADDs with 100 sold.
Government indicated that the tractors were archaic in terms of technical aspects; hence, their disposal which largely benefitted government officials and politically-connected individuals.
But the manufacturer, Sonalika International of India year disputed government's assertion and instead stressed that the tractors were "manufactured using the latest and best engineering technology available at the time". The manufacturer added that the supplied tractors were suitable for operation in Malawi.