This here will be about something simple as Maize, but not any maize as this is staple food. Malawi has had a rocky road when it comes to politics. This here about the agricultural economic structure that is fundamental for socio-economic stability, in an economy where the currency is losing value quickly. The sentiment and the government don’t seem honest in their approach and the opposition is addressing it, but not listen to. That is not something that is a new situation as governments tries to distance themselves from the opposition, but at this point it is a about something key to society as food security to its citizens.
What I don’t seem to understand how the President Mutharika can talk about having a decent economy to buy needed maize, while the economy is stagnating, and the Admarc cannot have given honest numbers of storage as the depleting. While the reports of selling stocks unlawfully and getting the maize prices higher and steady inflation on the price, while at one point promising to buy in Maize due to lack of stock, while the Zambian Authorities saying they have stopped exporting. Then even later telling the people that they are buying from Tanzania instead; that shows that the Government might have used the days between the “Zambian” import to facilitate the Tanzanian buying, while that is direct lying to the public about the general action from the government. The second is saying the government having the money while the funding from it comes from United Kingdom and U.S. to buy the maize. The U.S. gives through the United Nations World Food Program in the country, while the UK gave it more directly to the Malawian government. But before I go to deep, read and see if you get any clarity!
Background on the Maize shortage:
The President on the 3rd February:
“Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday failed to clear the mist over the availability of the maize in the country following reports that the country’s sole grain marketer, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is running short supply” (…)”My repeated assurance to you that no one shall die of hunger. Based on the assessed requirements of maize and quantities of maize that we have bought, there should have been enough maize in Admarc depots to cater for everyone’s needs” (…)”Admarc, meanwhile, will continue to replenish the maize stocks. In addition, we have additional money to buy more maize if needed” added Mutharika” (Nkawihe, 2016).
Same day release of the economic situation in Malawi:
“Since May 2012, upon devaluation, the Kwacha has lost value by 338 percent from MK169 against US Dollar as currently the local currency is trading at around MK720 against US Dollar” (…)”In a press statement released over the weekend signed by RBM Governor Charles Chuka which is also available to The Maravi Post, the central bank is optimistic of getting the Kwacha back despite its continue slippage against international foreign exchange” (…)”“Malawians would recall, the exchange rate misalignment was so serious that the country had very limited foreign exchange reserves and accumulated huge external payments arrears (estimated to be in excess of US$600 million) held by both Government and the private sector. This created persistent and wide spread shortages of fuel and other critical imports. Indeed, the exchange rate misalignment diverted foreign exchange transactions to the parallel or black market. Prior to the devaluation the official exchange rate was K169/US$ compared to over K250/US$ in the parallel market” (…)“Kwacha depreciation is hurting low-income earners and is creating undue uncertainty in the business community. It is however misleading to portray a collapse of the economy. Despite the debilitating exogenous shocks, the Kwacha has performed relatively better than in other countries when they also floated their currencies in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Malawi continues to pay for its international obligations and foreign exchange reserves have never been better, especially taking in to account the loss of donor direct budget support. Fiscal and monetary policy coordination has been strong despite daunting fiscal pressures”, concludes the central bank statement” (Mb’Wana, 2016).
Days later the opposition question on slashing of the budget:
“The 2015/16 approved budget was initially pegged at K929.7 billion, but is now down to K906 billion with recurrent budget reduced by just over K17.1 billion and the development budget slashed by K5.6 billion” (…)”Leader of Opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera reacting to the revised budget, told Nyasa Times that his party is eagerly waiting to hear from the government why instead of increasing the budget to buy maize for people who are suffering with hunger and medicine from public hospitals they have resorted to cutting the budget at this critical time” (…)”Apart from food crisis, shortage of medicine in public hospitals, Jooma said the budget was expected to rise due to the fall of kwacha as the approved budget of K929.7 billion was done when the kwacha was at K450 to one dollar and currently it is selling at 700 which means in actual sense the budget is all below what was needed and to cut it further it will continue squeeze poor Malawians” (Nkhoma, 2016).
The President on day the after:
“In a national on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television on Thursday, President Mutharika said it had come to his government’s attention that some officers in ADMARC depots are conniving with vendors to buy and sell maize that has been subsidized” (…)”He also appealed to the police to investigate the matter thoroughly and bring to book those who will be guilty of such a malpractice” (APA, 2016).
CSO on the Maize shortage:
“Currently, Government has blamed vendors for the sloppy management at ADMARC which is assuring in a way that Government wants accountability. However, should venders really be part of the blame equation? Isn’t it ADMARC itself that opened its doors at the said odd hours to sell the maize? The Mpherembe ADMARC Depot alleged assault case reported in the Nation Newspaper of Tuesday, 16 February 2016 page 8, perfectly reveals the purported rot in ADMARC” (…)”Sourcing of maize from neighboring countries is very important because it will cut on transportation costs. As such, Governmnet must be applauded for this. However, it is also important to highlight that these neighboring countries are equally affected by el nino but yet have surplus to sell to Malawi” (Mkandawire, 2016).
What Malawi Revenue Authority said to the public on the 11th February 2016:
“Its LEGAL to import maize flour into Malawi BUT it is ILLEGAL to smuggle the commodity. Get an import permit for free from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. You may not even pay duty if you have a COMESA Certificate” (Malawi Revenue Authority, 11.02.2016).
On the 20th February – this happen:
“Government spokesman and Minister of Information, Jappie Mhango claimed there is 60,000 metric tonnes of maize in her grain reserves, enough to feed the nation.” (..)”The delegates booed President Peter Mutharika’s chief adviser on economic affairs Collins Magalasi throughout his contribution as he tried to defend the food situation and authenticate statistics on available maize which he said was enough to feed starving Malawians” (…)“In total we have 50 500 metric tonnes [MT] of maize which has not been released to the people… People have decided to mislead themselves and this is about the maize that we are talking about, this maize is more than what we need,” said Magalasi” (…)”In his presentation titled ‘Importance of agriculture to development’, Cisanet’s National Coordinator, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said: “It’s a pity that government is telling us that it has 60 000 metric tonnes of maize in grain reserves but an inside source has informed me that there is only 2000 metric tonnes” (Chilunga, 2016).
On the 25th February – Question on the import from Zambia:
“Member of Parliament for Rumphi East who is also opposition People’s Party (PP) third Vice President Kamlepo Kalua has written a letter requesting Malawi President Peter Mutharika to come to Parliament to clarify government claims to have procured maize for Malawians” (…)”He says Zambia has banned exportation of maize to Malawi and Zambia’s Agriculture minister has confirmed the ban” (Auzeni, 2016).
On the 29th Februar – Opposition rally discussing the matter:
“A joint rally in Lilongwe by opposition parties, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Peoples Party and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) has openly dressed down Malawi President, Peter Mutharika as an ‘irresponsible leader’ who they claim does not care about the country” (…)”Chakwera said: ” We do have issues that show responsibility. Look at the hunger and the economic crisis. It’s a mockery to Malawians that despite scarcity of maize in Admarc depots, persistent power back out , water problems , shortage of medicine in public hospitals, rising prices of good, economic hardship Malawians are facing , Mutharika can boldly stand and say he has no problems” (…) ”We are all feeling the hunger together with the Malawians. Its unfortunate that he (Mutharika) does not see and know theres hunger in the country” said Chihana” (…)”The sentiments were made during the rally at Kalambo School Ground which the parties labeled as a solidarity on Sunday, as led by MCP leader, Lazarous Chakwera PP acting Vice Presdent, Kamlepo Kalua and Aford President Enoch Chihana” (Malawi Times, 29.02.2016).
On the 29th February the first trucks arriving:
“Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe In Parliament: “Treasury has empowered ADMARC to procure another large consignment of 50,000 metric tons of maize from Tanzania. As we see it, we have and will have enough maize in stock that will be more than enough to satisfy ADMARC markets in the coming days” (…) “On the hunger situation, Gondwe says government has everything under control. “Just yesterday some 44 large trucks full of maize crossed our borders into Malawi” (Malawi Voice, 2016).
“About 70 trucks importing maize that government has bought through Admarc have spent more than two weeks at Mwami border in Zambia waiting for clearance from authorities. However, forty-four trucks carrying 500 metric tons arrived in the country on Friday” (…)”Admarc Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, assured the nation that the process of importing all the 30,000 metric tonnes of maize would take two weeks.“This was actually planned, well in advance by government. When you look at the tonnage that is coming, it’s 30,000 metric tonnes. That’s not the tonnage we need currently. We have actually started stockpiling for the coming season. If we are talking about what parliament is saying, they have made their assertion barely 12 hours ago we wouldn’t have been able go through the whole process and have the maize start arriving in Malawi now,” Mulumbe said” (McDonald, 2016).
On the 3rd March – Statement by CAMA:
“In a statement signed by its Executive Director John Kapito, Cama said government does not need to spend forex on importation of maize when there is already enough maize in the country” (…)“Cama is shocked that the Malawi government is importing maize at a time when we all know that there is a lot of maize in the country which is being held by private traders in various warehouses throughout the country” (…) “What is more annoying is that the private traders are hoarding the maize and demanding higher prices that range from K300 to K350 per kilogramme when they purchased such maize from poor Malawians at K60 per kilogramme. And we are aware that the private traders are intending to export the maize to satisfy their greed at a time when Malawians are dying of hunger,” Kapito said” (…)”Government announced that it would purchase 30,000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia to avert the current food crisis”(Chitsulo, 2016).
On the 3rd March – Statement from President Mutharika:
“I publicly appealed to our Development Partners to help us with additional food and other resources so that we can supplement our own local maize supplies to fight the pending hunger. The aim was to ensure that we should cover everyone who would need food support. I want to thank those friends who came forward and helped us, such as the WFP and others” (…)”Most sadly, I have been told that there is critical shortage of maize at many ADMARC depots. I am further informed that some ADMARC officials are conniving together with some criminal maize vendors, who buy ADMARC maize at night and sell it to poor Malawians elsewhere at very exorbitant prices. In some places poor Malawians are forced to buy this maize at Fifteen Thousand kwacha per 50kg bag, because they cannot find maize at ADMARC. Consequently some of them are now starving” (…)”I also want to appeal to all decent Malawians to examine their moral conscience and reflect deeply. I have repeatedly talked about patriotism, hard work and integrity. Because of hard work and careful planning, my government bought this maize through ADMARC at much higher costs for you to buy only at Five Thousand Five Hundred Kwacha (MK5,500) per 50kg. In effect, these thieves are therefore stealing this maize from you” (Mana Online – Malawi News Agency, 03.03.2016).
Reports today on 4.3.2016:
“Talks are in progress between the treasury and two major agro-processing companies to seal an agreement for maize production in Malawi” (Capital FM Malawi, 04.03.2016).
“While commending government for suspending import license requirements on importation of maize flour, traders in the industry are still calling on government to introduce a duty waiver on the commodity” (The Daily Times Malawi, 04.03.2016).
Here is the continuation on the matter:
“Bill Mayaya, one of the organisers of the peaceful march said it a Republican Constitutional right for all the Malawians, regardless of their standing in society to have access to food. “We want to show the government that we are not satisfied with their explanations. People will continue dying of hunger and hunger related diseases” he said” (Khamula, 2016).
“Bishop for Karonga Diocese of the Catholic Church Martin Mtumbuka has said the church is disappointed and concerned with the way many Malawians are suffering because they do not have food and has since called on government which claims to have maize to make it available to the people” (…) “I think that government of Malawi pays people who have solutions to that. So, I do not want to be doing their job by suggesting what they should be doing. All I would like to stress is we were told there is maize, let the maize be made available to the people. And we would also want to say may be the best way is also to stop blaming each other. I don’t want to enter into blame game but the key issue is that people should have the maize,” he said” (Mmana, 2016).
“The Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) has asked government to order private traders to release maize to the public and break the vicious cycle of hoarding the grain for anticipated inflated prices” (…)”Kapito claimed in a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Tuesday that private traders are hoarding the maize and demanding higher prices that range from K300 to K350 per kilogram, when they purchased such maize from poor Malawians at K60 per kilogram” (…)”Government must order all traders that are hoarding the maize to release it onto the market immediately. Government must recommend the selling price for such maize, knowing fully that it had recommended the buying price of maize from the farmers after harvest” says the statement (…)”The survey was carried out on January 30. 2016. “Most Agro Traders have the commodity but are not willing sale to Admarc or Government due to the fluctuation and instability of the local currency” reads the report in part” (…)”In terms of tonnage – as of January 30 – Pride Produce had 9,000 tonnes; Export Trading 89,000 tonnes, K U Distributors 70,000 tonnes while Trans-Globe had 40,000 tonnes of Maize” (Simutowe, 2016).
How the Government can afford to import maize:
“The United States yesterday gave Malawi $27 million (K20 billion) in response to the food shortage that has affected about 2.8 million Malawians. The development brings America’s total contribution to humanitarian response to $ 55 million (about K41 billion) which represents about 44 percent of the K 92.7 billion the country needed to provide monthly food or cash ration to startling population between October last year and April 2016” (Mkandawire, 2016).
How the Government can afford to import maize Part II:
“The UK’s Department for International Development announced today that it is stepping up its humanitarian support to the southern African country, which with today’s announcement will total £14.5m since October 2015” (…)”International development minister Nick Hurd said providing support is not only “hugely important to African people” but also in the UK’s national interest” (…)”The announcement came as the World Food Programme appealed for $38m as the situation in Malawi worsens and the UN agency’s funds wane” (Rumney, 2016).
Zambian export of maize too Malawi saga:
“ZAMBIA suspended maize exports to Zimbabwe and Malawi last week to help build reserves in light of a looming El Nino-induced drought, local grain importers confirmed last Friday” (…)”The suspension has affected Zimbabwe and Malawi local grain importers who are now battling to import in about 150 000 tonnes of maize”(Afriem, 2016).
“Malawi has procured an additional 10,000 metric tonnes of maize grain from neighbouring Zambia that will be distributed to various Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) depots in the country to feed people up to April.Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister Allan Chiyembekeza told journalists in the capital Lilongwe on Tuesday” (APA, 2016).
As you see with certainty and certainly more to this story than what has been released and happen behind closed doors; I wonder also about how the storage components got empty and that the Admarc can’t control the amount of maize. That is what is worrying and the authorities can’t have a open trade with investors and companies who keeps maize already in storage, as the 30th January reports showed. The issue is that the Government of Malawi has told certain things and Government of Zambia told another, therefore ended up importing from Tanzania and not Zambia, as the time went by and still did not discuss the trade between the companies storing the local produced maize. That was bugs me as seeing the pictures of ques to Admarc storages to get little maize to themselves.
The questioning of the response from the Government and the ability to fulfil the necessary food security in the country; that is justified to ask as the President Mutharika defends and claim that Admarc stealing maize flour and selling it. That might be true to some extent, but still they could not take the whole amount of tonnes over night without any questions. Then if so, wouldn’t the government get reports and receipts, or some paperwork. That explains why the deliverance and due diligence on the work the government outfit has done. So if they stole the whole thing and was baffled thieving. Then the Government should arrest certain king-pens in the system and address the loss to get back the earned silver-coins by the thieves. Since that is not happening and the trades of the maize is rising, the prices spiking while the farmers getting less of a price from the government buying scheme. This shows some industry insiders earning on the spiked prices and getting extra cash for the same product as before the issue of struggling storage of maize flour in the country.
But the government claims at one point to have the cash be able to buy more if needed. While they really need donor funding to do so and get the UK and U.S. to drop their tax money and sending maize to Malawi. While the economy looks bleak by what the already reports is showing. This here is showing some arrogance from the government when they now the numbers and the reports of the storage. As the where are arrogant while they had to know the Zambian governments actions on their behalf. That is so hoping that people who are in a dire situation and hope that nobody is questioning it. Well, I hope they do and also get the government to answer for this as they have been left short by the shortage of the maize and the dwindling economy. Two aspects that is well fitted together and shows certain mismanagement from central government down to the citizens; and it is the citizens that pays the huge price and also the higher price of the maize flour as a cost of the actions that has happen recently. Peace.
Afriem – ‘ZAMBIA SUSPENDS MAIZE EXPORTS TO ZIM AND MALAWI, NO MAIZE SOLD TO MALAWI’ (16.02.2016) link: http://www.afriem.org/2016/02/zambia-suspends-maize-exports-to-zim-and-malawi-no-maize-sold-to-malawi/
APA – ‘Subsidized maize not for sale, Mutharika warns Malawi dealers’ (04.02.2016) link: http://en.starafrica.com/news/subsidized-maize-not-for-sale-mutharika-warns-malawi-dealers.html
APA – ‘Malawi procures additional maize from Zambia’ (17.02.2016) link: http://en.starafrica.com/news/malawi-procures-additional-maize-from-zambia.html
Auzeni, PA Anzanu – ‘KAMLEPO PENS MUTHARIKA TO APPEAR BEFORE PARLIAMENT’ (25.02.2016) link: http://www.faceofmalawi.com/2016/02/kamlepo-pens-mutharika-to-appear-before-parliament/
Chilunga, Zawadi – ‘DPP ‘IN DENIAL’ SAYS KABWILA: MAGALASI BOOED AT ‘FUTURE OF MALAWI’ PAC CONFERENCE’ (20.02.2016) link: http://www.nyasatimes.com/2016/02/20/dpp-in-denial-says-kabwila-magalasi-booed-at-future-of-malawi-pac-conference/
Chitsulo, Moses – ‘Cama wants government to act on maize traders’ (03.03.2016) link: http://www.times.mw/cama-wants-government-to-act-on-maize-traders/
Khamula, Owen – ‘Malawi Protests over food shortage, economic woes March 10’ (02.03.2016) link: http://www.nyasatimes.com/2016/03/02/malawi-protests-over-food-shortage-economic-woes-march-10/comment-page-1/
Malawi Voice – ‘Treasury Empowers Admarc To Procure 50,000 Metric Tons Of Maize From Tanzania’ (26.02.2016) link: http://malawivoice.com/treasury-empowers-admarc-to-procure-50000-metric-tons-of-maize-from-tanzania/
Mb’Wana, Lloyd – ‘RESERVE BANK ASSURES MALAWI’S KWACHA STABILIZATION AMID PRICES OF GOODS AND SERVICES SOURING’ (03.02.2016) link: http://www.maravipost.com/business/economy/10387-reserve-bank-assures-malawi%E2%80%99s-kwacha-stabilization-amid-prices-of-goods-and-services-souring.html
McDonald Thom – ‘44 maize trucks arrive in Malawi’ (29.02.2016) link: http://www.times.mw/44-maize-trucks-arrive-in-malawi/
Mkandawire, Lucky – ‘US Give Malawi K20bn to buy maize’ (01.03.2016) link: http://mwnation.com/us-gives-malawi-k20bn-to-buy-maize/
Mkandawire, MacBain – ‘Maize shortage and the prevailing economic situation’ (19.02.2016) link: http://www.congoma.mw/2016/02/19/maize-shortage-and-the-prevailing-economic-situation/
Mmana, Deogratias – ‘GIVE MALAWIANS MAIZE—BISHOP MTUMBUKA’ (02.03.2016) link: http://www.times.mw/give-malawians-maize-bishop-mtumbuka/
Nkawihe, Maurice – ‘Mutharika admits Malawi citizens starving: Fails to clear air on maize security’ (04.02.2016) link: http://www.nyasatimes.com/2016/02/04/mutharika-admits-malawi-citizens-starving-fails-to-clear-air-on-maize-scarcity/
Nkhoma, Mphatso – ‘MALAWI OPPOSITION SCEPTICAL WITH REVISED BUDGET’ (27.02.2016) link: http://www.nyasatimes.com/2016/02/27/malawi-opposition-sceptical-with-revised-budget/
Rumney, Emma – ‘DFID increases food aid to Malawi’ (17.02.2016) link: http://www.publicfinanceinternational.org/news/2016/02/dfid-increases-food-aid-malawi
Simutowe, Yamikani – ‘Kapito says private traders should release maize: Asks Malawi government to issue order’ (02.03.2016) link: http://www.nyasatimes.com/2016/03/02/kapito-says-private-traders-should-release-maize-asks-malawi-government-to-issue-order/