President Peter Mutharika yesterday said people who are attacking his government over the Zambian maize import deal are just wasting their time on a ‘useless issue’.
Mutharika said people who are accusing government officials have no evidence to prove their claims.
“[This is] a useless issue that we have wasted time and resources on. Not so long ago, people were saying that I am shielding seven ministers and I have challenged them to bring forth the names [of the corrupt ministers]. Bring the names and I will take action or shut up!” he said.
Mutharika was speaking at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe during the launch of expansion works being financed by the Japanese Government to the tune of $33 million (about K24 billion).
The maize purchase deal from Zambia is currently marred with controversy regarding contractual issues involving the State-produce trader Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
While Admarc insists that it bought the grain from government agency Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), documents show that Admarc may have used a private Zambian company that may be more expensive than if the deal were government-to-government.
Mutharika instituted a commission of inquiry to probe the maize deal which has angered civil society organisations (CSOs) and opposition lawmakers in the country.
But the President, who is today expected to receive a report from the commission of inquiry on the maize scam, urged Malawians to spend their energies on paying tax so that the country can raise funds for development activities.
He said there are so many tax evaders whose actions are sabotaging government development projects.
The KIA expansion project will improve the passenger terminals to increase the capacity of the airport to handle passengers with more convenience and ensure the safety of aircraft operation, thereby promoting domestic and international travel.
Built with Japanese overseas development loans in 1978, KIA has seen a rapid increase in the number of travellers from approximately 110 000 per year in 2003 to 210 000 in 2013. The number is expected to exceed 300 000 by 2025, according to Japanese International Cooperation (Jica) the implementation partners of the project.
Apart from upgrading KIA, Mutharika said government will ensure that Chileka International Airport in Blantyre, Mzuzu and Mangochi airports also undergo refurbishments.
“KIA is going to have a dual carriageway connecting it to the heart of the city and we recognise that the aviation sector is another key area to development,” said the President.
In her remarks, Japanese Ambassador Kae Yanagisawa said she was happy that KIA, which was constructed by Japan, will also be expanded and refurbished with funding from her country. n