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Going in circles with grain marketer?

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Puludzu

Sometimes it is quite difficult to digest some of the happenings around us, more so when they involve financial resources that are directed towards certain public institutions and officials whose works have been found wanting. News that Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has extended the forced leave for its staff is quite baffling, to say the least.

So, we (meaning taxpayers) will continue to folk out our hard-earned kwachas, which we pay to government in form of tax, to meet, among others, the salaries of Admarc employees who were banished to a forced leave in August this year, a holiday which has now been extended by a month?

Just fancy, without lifting a finger, somebody will still smile their way to the bank, not out of their wish but due to some costly decisions that government and management of the company have made in recent months.

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Hang on a minute! It is not like the company staff is entirely innocent. The genesis of it all was the discovery, through an audit, that money in the regions of K330 million was lost through fraud and abuse. This involved insurance claims and payments for ‘ghost’ workers. We are yet to get to the bottom of this matter. Thus every Malawian has been following with keen interest the developments to do with the parastatal, including the time Parliament summoned some top officials from both government and Admarc.

This was the time that the majority shareholder of the parastatal, who is the Secretary to the Treasury, came out to confess that he was kept in the dark when the decision to temporarily close Admarc was taken and not surprisingly, he equally confessed that he did not have the estimated K9 billion which officials had indicated would be required to meet the retrenchment package for the employees the company plans to lay off.

Why then, if we do not have such a huge sum within the coffers at Capital Hill, should Admarc employees fail to earn their keep for one more month while the government silently watches? The fate of Admarc needed to be addressed with a sense of urgency and any dilly-dallying would only complicate the very problems that government is trying to address.

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With the rainy season now upon us and the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), which has had teething problems, about to roll out, many thought the November 30 deadline to end the forced leave was going to be ideal, only for the authorities to turn around and shift it to the end of December. Not only is this ping-pong in decision making costly financially but it also does not reflect well on the battered image of the corporation.

Yes there are festive holidays coming up towards the end of December but surely, Admarc management and the-powers-that-be should have still opened shop to assure Malawians that all was well.

I understand upon resumption, employees that will be maintained will be engaged on a month-to-month basis. This, to me, goes to show that nothing concrete has really materialised during the three months that the company has been dormant. I thought, for a moment, that this down time was being utilised by government, the company’s management and board (has it been reconstituted by the way after its mandate expired?) to come up with a lasting solution rather than interim measures. It looks like I was wrong.

It is quite simple, really. All we need is to ensure that, in the words of Dr Kamuzu Banda, people have food to eat (which sums up why we need the company up and running) and get rid of all the dead wood and corrupt minds, who should be made known publicly and held accountable for their misdeeds which have cost the taxpayer huge sums of money.

Otherwise, it does not make sense to continuously keep the company closed and staff away on forced leave at home for a prolonged period while still carting their pay cheques. If the management knows that they are nearly done with their inquest and plans for the restructuring, then the best thing was to build momentum now as we head towards the end of 2022 and begin 2023 with a bang.

Let us play our part

December 01 was World Aids Day and I took time to reflect on the fact that, lately, it somehow appeared as if the battle against HIV and Aids had been eclipsed by that waged against the new monster Covid-19.

I therefore just wanted to remind everyone that Aids is still out there claiming lives, hence we must protect ourselves where necessary and check our behaviour.

In the same vein, we are within the 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It is cowardly to beat up a spouse or take advantage of a child. Any abuse or violation of a human right should be frowned upon in the strongest terms. Let us be the change agent within society by playing our part in containing these problems.

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