By Iommie Chiwalo
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), has warned President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to stop playing hide-and-seek on availability and accessibility of fertiliser as wall as maize in the country.
The call comes amid inconsistency from authorities when explaining about matters to do with fertiliser donation which government says it will still spend a whopping K40 billion only in blending.
In a press statement signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, says his organisation rose to the occasion after it is evident that President Chakwera has departed from his campaign promise of selling a 50 Kilogramme bag of fertiliser at no more than K4,500.
“In fact, we have a video clip where an old woman, identifying her-self as Virginia Kalifale, is vowing to vote for Chakwera on the strength of this promise for cheap fertiliser. To those that could not afford the K4,500, Dr. Chakwera, actually promised free fertiliser. Now, what evidence is there that such people’s economic fortunes have improved that they can now afford to contribute K15,000 towards the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) fertiliser? Today, Virginia Kalifale represents millions of Malawians who voted for Chakwera hoping to buy fertiliser at K4,500,” queries Namiwa.
Adding that such people have had a shock of their lives at hearing from the AIP task force that this year they are expected to contribute K15,000 for their subsidised fertiliser bearing in mind that these are commodities which poor Malawians, who are majority depend on for survival.
He said the conduct of Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance administration is nothing but a total betrayal given the current economic challenges facing Malawi clearly mirrored through the sky-rocketing cost of living that has made life for an average Malawian family practically difficult.
Namiwa has therefore, challenged all farming communities to refuse the global economic downturn and the Ukraine war stories, which are being used by the current administration to cover up its incompetence and cluelessness because elsewhere, leaders that have the welfare of their people at heart have worked out mechanisms to bail out citizens.
“But, here, is all about excuses. If the leaders are giving excuses on problems their people are facing, who, then, will give citizens solutions? As we stand, it is clear that Malawians are paying the price of voting into office leaders who were not up to the mark,” hints Namiwa saying from the look of things, in the coffers that President Chakwera controls there is money for anything else save for fertiliser and food for the poorest of the poor.
“Evidence is there that every month the President has money to travel somewhere with a bloated entourage at the expense of poor Malawians, most of whom do not know where their next meal is going to come from. To prove that President Chakwera does not care about the likes of Virginia Kalifale—that only need affordable fertiliser not handouts—his cronies are ready to pounce on the donated fertiliser by selling it at K15,000 per bag,” he said.
As authorities are failing to explain, CDEDI and numerous Malawians are not getting response of where the already budgeted for AIP will go.
“Where the money already budgeted for this exercise will go is anybody’s guess. Simply put, this decision has been arrived at because Malawians have accepted to be taken for granted by politician. As citizens, we seem to enjoy suffering in silence. Had we protested the 2021/2022 price of K7,500 this year, matters would not have come to this point. Should we accept this price, next year the same AIP fertiliser will be at K50,000 per bag!,” highlights the CDEDI Executive Director.
Namiwa has since challenged President Chakwera to reverse the decision by his cronies to sell the donated fertilizer and also revise the price of AIP fertiliser to K7,500 before the launch of the programme slated for Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Dedza district.
“The President should also come out clearly on the actual amount of fertilizer
available in the country outside the AIP, since it appears we, as a nation, have forgotten that we also have commercial farmers,” he said.
Speaking on maize availability situation, Namiwa calls for an explanation to the nation about the status of the maize situation in the country in the wake of the sky-rocketing prices of the staple grain and when the people should expect the opening of the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) selling points that have been tried and tested as well as proven to be the right channels for accessing both fertilizer and food across the country.
“Let the President and his government be reminded that a hungry person is an angry person, therefore, any carelessness in handling the maize
crisis in the country is a recipe for disaster,”