Monday, May 21, 2007

Row over Malawi export of maize to Zim

Opposition leaders in Malawi Sunday accused the government of President Bingu wa Mutharika of breaking international trade rules by paying for maize it is exporting to Zimbabwe. But government has since described the allegations as "baseless and lacking on facts".

"(The) Government has take US$300 million from the Reserve Bank of Malawi to pay the National Food Reserve Authority for the maize it is exporting to Zimbabwe," said opposition Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) president Kamlepo Kalua while addressing a public rally alongside former president Bakili Muluzi....

"The deal was a normal international trade deal signed between Malawi and Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean Central Bank will pay Malawi some US$120 million for the maize," he said.

Kutsaira said in fact the Zimbabwe Central Bank has already made an initial US$6 million payment for "logistics". "As you know, Malawi recorded a surplus in maize (yields) this year and some of the maize has to be sold out to some countries in the region that recorded deficits, such as Zimbabwe," he said. "If we do not sell our maize surplus it will be destroyed and prices on the market will be depressed."

Malawi is currently discussing with the governments of the kingdom of Swaziland and Lesotho- which also had food deficits- for further maize exports, he added. Malawi needs about 2 million metric tonnes of the staple food, maize, to feed its population of 12 million people. But, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the southern African country recorded a surplus of about 1 million metric tonnes.

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