AIP Mess: Cabinet Reshuffle Imminent, Lowe Fired
President Lazarus Chakwera has told the nation that he is not impressed with the performance of some of his cabinet ministers who are not only incompetent but also corrupt, and has since fired two.
In a national address last night, President Chakwera said agriculture minister Lobin Lowe had been fired alongside his deputy Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa for what he described as negligence in the procurement of fertilizer under this year’s farm subsidy programme.
He implied that the two failed to take charge of the affairs as the government-owned Small-holder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Farm of Malawi, which handles the fertilizer component of the programme, made two suspicious payments to a United Kingdom-based agent.
In his address, the president insisted that his government had contacted central banks of two countries through which the money, $725, 000, was paid in two instalments to have it paid back.
Lowe has replaced with Sam Kawale, who was minister of lands and chairperson of a cabinet committee on the subsidy scheme known as Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
Government cancelled the contract with Barkaat Foods Limited after it was discovered that it had no capacity to supply the commodity but an opposition member of parliament claimed the money lost was in excess of K30 billion ($300, 000, 000). The president dismissed the claim.
The visibly angry Chakwera warned there will be more changes other than the firing of Lobin and Kambauwa, including an overhaul of the cabinet and a review of the whole subsidy programme.
He said he will make urgent reforms to the design and implementation of the AIP to improve its efficiency and protect it from careless acts of negligence, corruption, incompetence and wastage.
These will include a targeted subsidized farm inputs programme, the use of farmer cooperatives and farmer clubs and provision of support to farmers with potential to undertake commercial farming.
“These reforms will make sure that the 4 million households that need government interventions are streamlined to various social support programmes according to their need, by using the Unified Beneficiary Register (UBR) and National Identity Cards.
“These reforms will also make sure that AIP should not be used just for popular politics but as a government initiative that should change the lives of many Malawians,” he said.
The president said he was not happy that despite successful implementation of the AIP in 2020 and 2021, there are still 3.8 million Malawians who are food insecure in 2022.
The Malawian leader said to salvage the current situation, the government has procured several tons of fertilizer locally and abroad which will soon be made available to farmers under the AIP.
(Additional reporting by Malawi News Agency)
Last modified on Wednesday, 26/10/2022