In a sudden twist of events, State-owned grain marketer Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) Limited has said it intends to fire all its employees as part of its restructuring process, according to a letter from the now dissolved board of directors to workers.
Initially, the corporation indicated that it would only fire 3,122 employees out of the 4,687 workers on its books.
But in a letter dated September 16 2022, titled ‘Notice of Intention to Carry Out Retrenchment at Admarc Limited as Part of Restructuring of the Company’, to the firm’s workers union, former Admarc board chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi advised that the company would fire all employees in a phased approach.
The letter was meant for the attention of Admarc Workers Union Vice Chairperson Anne Chinkhata and was copied to the union’s secretary Memory Kanyenda.
“Admarc Limited intends to retrench all its employees since the company has been completely restructured. The retrenchment exercise will be carried out in a phased manner and all guidelines of the retrenchment process will be followed
“You will be informed of the implementation plan once preparations have been concluded,” the letter reads.
In the communication, the board says the firm has been performing poorly, such that it has accumulated debts that are now choking its operations.
It says the company now has liabilities that are more than its assets and has a wage bill that is not supported by the company’s revenue base.
Chinkhata Tuesday confirmed receiving the letter from Kusamba Dzonzi.
She said since the board had asked the union to work with it throughout the process, the union also asked the board to brief them on what had happened from the beginning.
“I can confirm receiving the letter from the board,” Chinkhata said.
When contacted on Monday on who is in charge at Admarc in the absence of both management and the board, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said Controller of Agriculture Services Jerome Nkhoma is the man in charge at the institution.
On the letter, Lungu said the communication was crafted in such a way that every worker gets psychologically prepared for retrenchment.
When contacted on Tuesday, Nkhoma said the Ministry of Agriculture or Admarc spokesperson were better placed to comment on the wholesale retrenchment at the institution, saying he had never been part of the team that made a decision on the retrenchment.
Speaking when he appeared before the Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee of Parliament recently, Kusamba Dzonzi indicated that the organisation intended to remain with 1,565 staff members only.
He said most of the staff members at Admarc did not deserve to be in their positions, adding that some could not even write.
The Admarc former chairperson said the institution has a wage bill of around K750 million per month, when it only makes just about K50 million.
Late last month, Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe announced that he had shut down Admarc, citing high levels of corruption, theft and professional negligence.
Lowe sent all members of staff at the corporation on paid leave and suspended all its activities except for social services.
He said police had been deployed to all Admarc offices to ensure that no employee got near the corporation’s premises, saying doing so would be regarded as trespassing.