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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 16:22 GMT
Malawi probes grain sales
Grain supplies
Vital grain reserves were exported to Kenya
Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi has appointed a commission to investigate the sale of the country's emergency grain reserve just months before food shortages started to occur.

The government in Malawi blames the IMF and the World Bank for forcing it to sell grain to repay loans.

But the money has not been accounted for, and the IMF says it gave no such advice.

The commission, chaired by a lawyer, will also look into allegations of mismanagement in the state-run grain company.

The depletion of the maize reserves, most of which were exported to Kenya, is largely blamed for causing Malawi's acute food shortage.

According to government and aid agencies, more than 3.2 million people need urgent food aid.

Denial

Our reporter in Malawi says the inquiry will also examine whether Finance Minister Friday Jumbe, who was then head of a grain marketing company, the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation, used money from the sale for the construction of the Superior Hotel in Blantyre, which he owns.

Baby
More than three million Malawians are at risk of starvation
Mr Jumbe has denied any wrongdoing, saying he welcomes the inquiry and has nothing to fear.

Last week, the World Food Programme said lessons must be learnt from the way that international funding organisations have dealt with the hunger crisis in Malawi.

Malawi is one of the seven countries in Southern Africa facing critical food shortages.


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26 Nov 02 | Health
04 Sep 02 | Africa
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