The joint parliamentary committee conducting an inquiry into the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) maize procurement, leaves for neighbouring Zambia today to conduct further interviews with suppliers connected to the deal.
However, the trip has created divisions in the committee as one member, Karonga Central legislator Frank Mwenifumbo (Independent) has been left behind for allegedly quarrelling with the committee’s co-chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga.
According to information sourced from Parliament, Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) who are long-time partners of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, has funded the trip.
In an interview yesterday, Chidanti Malunga confirmed that the committee would be travelling to Zambia by bus and that the trip had been sponsored by a donor he did not name.
He said the Malawi foreign mission in Zambia has arranged meetings with various stakeholders mentioned during the public inquiry that the committee conducted during the past two weeks in Malawi.
Among these are Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Limited, with whom Admarc initially signed a contract to supply 100 000 metric tonnes of maize and Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) which has since supplied only 4 112 MT, leader of opposition Saviour Chishimba who opened the can of worms as well as Zambia government officials.
“There were several players mentioned in the inquiry from Zambia which we would like to interview to hear their side of the story. Our embassy in Zambia has already organised these meetings for us,” he said.
Eight out of members of the committee who have presided over the inquiry will make the seven-day trip.
Zomba Changalume MP John Chikalimba is unwell while Mwenifumbo has demanded an explanation over his exclusion from the meeting. In an interview yesterday, Mwenifumbo claimed he had been left behind after he jokingly questioned Chidanti Malunga’s leadership and alluded to the impeachment of the co-chairperson.
“Leaving me out at the last minute in this way is a vote of no confidence on my abilities to contribute to this inquiry. I will be tendering my resignation to the Speaker tomorrow [today],” he said.
But Chidanti Malunga said the decision on which member would go was made along political party membership to the committee as such there are two each from Democratic Progressive Party, Malawi Congress Party and People’s Party and one from United Democratic Front and one independent member.
“We could not get everyone on board because of funding issues. To enable us to go to Zambia, the sponsor could only accommodate members for three days as it is,” Chidanti Malunga said. n