Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday gave a resounding approval to a motion that seeks to reverse the irregularities committed in the sale of tractors initially meant for mechanising smallholder farmers.
Dedza East MP Juliana Lunguzi (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) moved that contrary to Section 3 of the Export-Import Bank of India (Loan) Authorisation Act, 2010 (Act No. 2 of 2011), the government sold tractors obtained under the loan.
Lunguzi, therefore, asked the House to resolve that: (a) “the full list of tractors sold, and buyers [including owners of any companies, if any] plus funds collected per tractor from each buyer so far, be availed to this House;
(b) information be made available to the House, the arrangements put in place for the funds recovered from the sale;
(c) the Agriculture Committee of Parliament physically takes an inventory of all tractors bought, using chassis numbers;
(d) the House be furnished with minutes where the decision was made to sell-off the tractors; and,
(e) the Minister of Agriculture assures this House that the original intent and purpose of the tractors, which was to assist smallholder farmers, will be achieved within the current programme as adjusted, or through other means”.
Lunguzi said the sale of the tractors had set a wrong precedent on matters of principle.
She said it was wrong for government to change what had been approved in Parliament just to benefit a few elites.
Lunguzi further stated that the illegal sale of tractors had contributed to the worsening problem of food insecurity in the country as smallholder farmers were left with no other option other than the age-old method of agriculture.
She also said the decision to sell the tractors was insensitive to the needs and interests of the future generations.
During the motion, Lunguzi and other MPs decried the “casual attitude Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda displayed when the matter was under debate”.
Thyolo East MP Gersom Solomon (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) demanded that all beneficiaries should return the tractors for distribution to deserving Malawians.
Meanwhile, the motion will be taken to Committees on Government Assurance, Budget and Finance, Agriculture, and Public Accounts. n