Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa, has written President Lazarus Chakwera asking him to intervene and stop the sale of maize by the Agriculture Development Corporation (ADMARC) to Grain Millers of Zimbabwe saying the decision will likely negatively impact Malawi's food security situation.
In a letter written on Wednesday, 8 June 2022, which Nyasa Times has seen, Nankhumwa says the sale of maize to Zimbabwe is a wrong decision, especially considering that this country is already expecting low yield this year owing to various factors among them cyclones Anna and Gombe, and also the challenges that fraughted the Agriculture Input Program (AIP) in this growing season.
He said what is suspect about the decision to sell the maize is the fact that not long ago Minister of Finance, Sosten Gwengwe assured Malawians that ADMARC will not proceed with the deal after it was exposed by the media.
"I am writing you this letter to express my deepest annoyance following reports that the public grain marketing company, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) is proceeding with the sale of 100,000 metric tonnes of maize to Grain Millers of Zimbabwe despite a recent assurance by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Honourable Sosten Gwengwe, that the maize would not be sold," reads part of Nankhumwa's letter.
Nankhumwa said the general prediction by experts as well as ordinary Malawians is that there will be hunger this year, adding that the decision to sale the maize therefore defies logic. "Mr. President, you may be well aware that many experts, as well as ordinary Malawians, are against this sale of maize by Admarc precisely because all indications are that many households are likely to face hunger this year due to an anticipated low yield," said Nankhumwa in the letter.
Added Nankhumwa: "This anticipated low yield is as a result of the problematic Agricultural Inputs Programme (AIP), which included the unavailability of farm inputs such as UREA fertilizer on the market. The rainfall was erratic and the recent cyclones 'Anna' and 'Gombe' compounded the already desperate situation, negatively affecting our agricultural output this season"
He said it is a fact that food security in this country is largely determined by the availability and accessibility of maize because it is a staple crop, which is consumed by almost all Malawians on a daily basis.
He added that he feels duty bound, as Leader of Opposition in Parliament, to call upon President Lazarus Chakwera to exercise his powers to stop the Board of Directors of ADMARC from selling the maize to avoid putting the lives of many Malawians in danger.
He said currently a 50kg bag of Maize is already selling at K15, 000 and one cannot imagine how much the same bag would cost in the next few months in a situation where ADMARC would have sold all the maize.
"As the Head of State and Government, your primary responsibility is to ensure that Malawians are food-secure aside protecting them from other socio-economic challenges. Let me, therefore, warn Your Excellency that the opposition shall hold you personally responsible for any loss of life to hunger as a result of the sale of this maize," said Nankhumwa in the letter, adding that he is prepared to seek legal redress on behalf of the people of Malawi should ADMARC go ahead with the sale.
ADMARC is selling 100,000 metric tonnes of maize to Grain Millers of Zimbabwe at the price of $22 million in a deal which was opposed by the suspended CEO, Rhino Chiphiko, which has also largely been facilitated by the Board's Chairman, Alex Kusamba Dzonzi without the knowledge of key members of management. It has also been revealed that all documentation and paperwork for the deal has been done by a law firm which is owned by a member of the Board of Directors for the organization.