It has been established that state-owned grain marketer Admarc has not paid a penny to any Zambian supplier for purchasing of maize, quelling fears by some sectors of society who are accusing CEO Foster Mulumbe of abusing public funds.
For the past few weeks local dailies have been parading stories incriminating Admarc officials of not following procedures and abusing funds meant for the purchase of the cereal from Zambia.
However, sources from Zambia indicate that despite truckloads of maize getting delivered into the country, Admarc has not initiated any payment awaiting proper procedures from financial institutions mandated to pay the suppliers.
Reports from Zambia say Admarc contacted Zambia Cooperative Fund last year inquiring the purchase of 100, 000 metric. However, Zambia Government advised ZCF to sell Admarc only 50, 000 metric tonnes, a tenth of which was transported to Malawi.
ZCF executive director James Chirwa debunked assertions that the two parties in the maize deal had already exchanged money.
“The US$34.5 million purported to have been wired to ZCF is also false. In such transactions, the bank makes a commitment that the money would be paid and what is reported to be money paid to us is a letter of credit written by the bank to assure us that the monies will be paid.
“This is a commitment by the bank to pay for the transaction and so far, ZCF has not received any payment for the maize which has been exported and that which we are yet to export to Malawi. All these reports are not true,” Mr. Chirwa said.
Officials at Reserve Bank of Malawi have also confirmed that no payment has been transacated yet.
“Yes we have been in touch with PTA Bank when the loan for maize purchase will come from. However, let me make it clear that PTA Bank are yet to transfer money to any commercial bank in the name of ZCF,” said a senior RBM official.
The ZCF boss also rubbished media reports that have accused Admarc and ZCF officals of transacting above the normal market price to enrich themselves.
He pointed out that the cost per tonne was quoted above the normal price because ZCF was also covering logistical costs on behalf of Admarc, hence the need to factor in what seem to be extra charges.
“The information given by Malawi media is a total misrepresentation of facts as Malawi was purchasing maize from Zambia at US$ 336 per tonne as agreed because Zambia was bearing all other costs associated with ferrying the commodity into that country,” Chirwa was quoted in Zambia media few days ago.
He clarified that a tonne of maize in Zambia was costing US$285 while ZCF was offering the maize to Malawi at US$ 336 per tonne bearing in mind that the Federation was bearing costs for transport, documentation and letter of credit.
“A tonne of maize in Zambia is costing US$ 285 and other than that, transporting the maize to Malawi costs UD$38 per tonne. Documentation costs are pegged at US$ 5 while the letter of credit costs US$ 8. Considering all these costs that Zambia has to incur, a tonne of Maize in Malawi is fetching for US$ 336 per tonne and so, for 50,000 tonnes that we are exporting, we are only making US$450, 000,” Mr. Chirwa explained.
Malawi President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has since instituted a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter fully.