Two officials from Agricultural development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) on Tuesday denied knowledge of a deal between Transglobe Export Produce Limited and the grain marketer to supply maize from Zambia.
The officials, who were State witnesses in the ongoing Zambia maize deal, told a magistrate’s court sitting in Lilongwe that it was surprising to see the company delivering maize at its depot in Lilongwe along Chilambula Road without signing a contract.
According to them, Admarc was only aware of a contract with Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) to supply 100 000 metric tonnes of the grain.
Chikondi Jere, a depot manager at Admarc in Lilongwe told the court that trucks carrying the maize belonging to Transglobe started arriving to offload the grain in December 2016 and she had to seek clearance from her seniors who, she said, were also not aware of the arrangement.
It took at least three days before Admarc regional manager for central, Joe Kenneth Masamba, who, after consulting former operations director Feckson Kantonga, gave a nod for the maize to be offloaded.
Jere indicated that at first, Transglobe officials demanded that she sign goods delivery documents for the company, but upon consultations with her bosses, this was rejected and Admarc was only allowed to sign documents of ZCF which was known to have a contract with the State grain marketer.
Some of the maize that was brought by Transglobe was also packed in ZCF bags and ordinary sacks and Admarc instructed that they be repackaged into ZCF branded sacks.
The maize was also not packaged in standard 50 kilogramme (kg) bags, but ranged from 40kg to 70 kg and Admarc ordered that all bags be standardised to 50 kg bags.
“It was in the middle of this exercise that the media first reported about the maize deal and everything was stopped. By then, Transglobe had delivered 1 805 metric tonnes [MT] of the grain and all the maize is still in our warehouses. ”
On his part, Masamba pointed out that he received a communication from Kantonga that trucks of the maize brought by Transglobe should move out of Admarc premises to sort out repackaging issues, but staff from the company refused.
He said: “They were instructed to move their trucks and do the repacking elsewhere, but I don’t know why they refused. After some days, Kantonga called and advised that the maize can be offloaded. ”
However, defence lawyers Jai Banda and Lusungu Gondwe who are representing Transglobe operations director Rashid Tayub produced documents showing that the company had a contract with ZCF to deliver the maize.
Both Tayub and former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda were present in court.
Meanwhile, today afternoon, Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi is expected to testify in the case as a State witness.