Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has accused leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera, the media and some non-governmental organisations of plotting against government to push for subsidised maize price in Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) depots.
In a statement signed by acting DPP secretary general Francis Mphepo yesterday, the party claimed Chakwera alongside others, not named, will easily incite violence because of ‘maizegate’, a term referring to alleged fraudulent transactions that Admarc was involved in when purchasing maize from Zambia.
In the statement, Mphepo dismissed reports that Admarc paid $34.5 million (about K26 billion) for 100 000 metric tonnes of maize to Zambia private company Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd, arguing the corporation is dealing with Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZFC), a government agency.
He said Admarc first wanted to buy maize from Zambian Grain Traders Association, but failed due to the price, and later negotiated with Kaloswe who offered the grain at $345 per tonne. However, he said Kaloswe failed to perform on his contract and the deal was signed with ZFC.
Mphepo said Admarc has not even paid ZFC because it has delivered less than 5 000 metric tonnes of maize. He said the condition of payment of the Letter of Credit (LC) was that ZFC shall be paid after the maize is delivered to Admarc in Lilongwe and upon production of a signed Received Goods Note (RGN).
But Chakwera laughed off the claims and accusations, stating that it was mere propaganda.
He said: “I am not party to all that. This is just propaganda and I would not want to be involved in it.”
When asked why DPP is commenting on the matter instead of leaving the issue to relevant government agencies, Mphepo argued in a telephone interview that DPP and government are one, hence the party’s reaction.
He said: “People are insulting the President, who is also leader of the DPP, so we have to respond because the party and government are one. I can challenge you, and even those making these unthinkable accusations to come up with facts that are contrary to ours. Admarc has not paid even K1 to anybody, check with banks.”
Last week, the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) confirmed having approved a request from Admarc to procure 100 000 metric tonnes of non-genetically modified maize from Zambia at $345 per tonne.
ODDP director Paul Taulo said in a response to a questionnaire, Admarc first submitted a request to buy maize from Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd and after its approval, the corporation changed, opting to buy from Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZFC) at the same price of $345 per tonne.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is also investigating the matter. n