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UPDATE 1-Malawi's president sacks agriculture minister in maize procurement probe
February 22, 2017 / 11:08 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Malawi's president sacks agriculture minister in maize procurement probe

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LILONGWE, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has dismissed the agriculture minister after an investigation into claims that the country paid too much for a delivery of maize from Zambia.

Mutharika ordered an investigation last month into the $34.5 million government maize purchase, following which he sacked George Chaponda, the southern African nation’s information minister said on Wednesday.

Chaponda was not immediately available for comment.

Zambian opposition leader Saviour Chishimba said in December he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per tonne for the 100,000 tonnes of Zambian white maize that was worth $215 a tonne. Shortly after the president launched the probe.

Malawi is importing maize to ease food shortages affecting an estimated 6.7 million people, triggered by a severe drought that swept the region in 2016.

Some senior Malawi government officials have said the price was higher because a transport and logistics company had to be hired to move the maize between the neighbouring countries.

Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; Writing by James Macharia; editing by John Stonestreet

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