Middlemen, politicians move to scuttle grain import deal

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By Independent Digest

MIDDLEMEN and top government officials are pushing to scuttle the Malawi-Zimbabwe maize import deal which has already been signed, the Malawina press has reported.
Zimbabwe’s Grain Millers Association (GMAZ) entered  into an agreement with the government run-Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) to purchase 100 000 metric tonnes of maize.
Investigations revealed that GMAZ representatives, who were granted import authority by cabinet, held high level talks with Malawi’s Agriculture minister Lobin Lowe, ADMARC management and members of the board.
The talks culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding at Sunbird Capital Hotel after government of Malawi’s approved the sale of 100 000 metric tonnes of maize.
 Investigations also revealed that GMAZ held talks with ADMARC general manager, chairman of the board and other board members and successfully concluded the supply agreement.
In an interview GMAZ chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara confirmed that the pre-procurement meetings were held and were above board.
“We held a series of meeting with government of Malawi’s minister of Agriculture, ADMARC general manager, chairman of the board and other board members,” Musarara said.
“ADMARC selling price is fair and we felt it was a reasonable deal in order to contain the cost of maize meal to ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Musarara also said GMAZ contract with ADMARC remains in subsistence, hence GMAZ is proceeding to execute it.
Middlemen, in Malawi, have always benefitted from maize and fertiliser deals by acting as agents between government and private suppliers.
In October last year The Independent Digest exposed how Malawi could lose close to K59 billion by procuring fertilisers for its ambitious Affordable Input Programme (AIP) through middlemen.
In his budget statement Finance minister said government was eliminating the use of middlemen in the procurement of inputs.
Observers, however, opined that the middlemen, who are largely cronies of those in power, help the ruling elites to build war chests for elections