By Yamikani Harji, MACHINGA
Demands! More demands! The abrupt cancellation of a public inquiry into the controversially suspended fertilizer barter deal between the Malawi government and a Romanian firm, East Bridge is still drawing more questions as accountability groups want justification for the latest move.
This comes as Public Accounts of Parliament-PAC has announced abortion of the inquiry that the public believed it would have laid bare the truth behind the botched deal with so many tales flying around.
But Center for Democracy and Economic Development Development Initiatives-CDEDI has written Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba, demanding release of minutes and audios for the PAC meeting that resolved to cancel the inquiry.
The local governance institution wants this information within seven days.
CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa claims there are allegations that PAC’s sudden change of heart on the issue, that sparked heated debate, might have been necessitated by money exchanging hands.
“As you are aware, Members of Parliament are representatives of the people on one hand and both the communities and plenary meetings of Parliament are public meetings on the other.
“CDEDI strongly believes that Malawians have a right to know what really transpired during the two hours meeting prior to the abrupt announcement,” writes Namiwa.
He adds the release of this critical information will not only demonstrate high levels of transparency and accountability, but also put to rest the debate that has dominated the public discourse.
Earlier, PAC chairpeson Mark Botomani argued they didn’t find any proof that government had spent on the deal after going through the documents submitted by the stakeholders
“We are not proceeding with inquiry because we were more concerned with any possible expenditure that may have been made.
“But we have found that there was no any expenditure that was made. Public resources, public money was not used in this particular deal,” said Botoman.
Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu told the public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation-MBC that government was vindicated with what has happened; saying some didn’t believe that no taxpayers money was paid in the deal
In the flopped deal, East Bridge was expected to supply 300 000 metric tonnes of fertiliser to Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi.
In return, Malawi was to give the Romanian firm assorted farm produce, including soya bean, groundnuts, rice, pigeon peas, sorghum, maize, sugar and cotton.