Suspended chief executive officer for the State produce trader, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), Foster Mulumbe, and director of operations Feckson Kantonga will know their fate this Wednesday when the parastatal’s board is scheduled to meet and pronounce its verdict.
Admarc board chairperson James Masumbu confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that a special task force of the board concluded its assignment a week ago.
The special committee headed by one of the board members, Ken Ndanga, was tasked to meet and look at recommendations from two separate commissions of inquiry that named the two officials as having flouted procurement procedures in the Zambia maize import deal.
Said Masumbu: “We can no longer prolong this matter. A decision has to be made and we know the public has waited for so long. The board will meet next week Wednesday [May 17] in Lilongwe because that is where most of the members live.
“What will happen is that the special committee will present its findings and recommendations to the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee and this committee will present the full report.”
However, an insider confided in The Nation that the special task force resolved to fire Mulumbe, but was undecided on Kantonga. This was corroborated by a member of the board.
Two weeks ago, chairperson of a joint parliamentary committee Joseph Chidanti-Malunga and Isaac Kayira, who was part of a four- member team of a commission of inquiry instituted by President Peter Mutharika, were barred from presenting findings and recommendations during hearing of the special committee.
The Nation established that the director of operations protested against having the two as part of the hearing.
Admarc board on April 3 2017 suspended Mulumbe and Kantonga for allegedly flouting procurement procedures in the procurement of 100 000 metric tons of maize from neighbouring Zambia.
According to an April 20 2017 letter from the committee inviting Mulumbe to the hearing, the suspended CEO faced four charges of performing duties in an unsatisfactory and inefficient manner, or neglecting or omitting to perform the same contrary to regulation 16(b) of Admarc conditions of service.
Mulumbe was also charged with failing to conduct due diligence before contracting with Zambia Cooperative Federation, (ZCF), contrary to regulation 117 of the Public Procurement regulations. The third charge is disregarding standing operating instructions relevant to appointment contrary to regulation 16(e) of Admarc conditions of service.
Further, he was also charged with embarking on external travel without clearance from the board chairperson, contrary to prevailing government policy as contained in circular Ref. No. 15/01/1 of August 25 2015.
Former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda was also implicated in the dubious maize deal and was fired from Cabinet in February this year to pave the way for investigations by the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB). n