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Going in circles

Full Circle

Just when some of us were beginning to believe that the new chapter for the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) will be written in full colour, it is sad to note that the company has been allocated a petty K4 billion in the 2023- 2024 National Budget for recapitalisation.

Mind you, this is an entity that recently got rid of its 4,000 plus employees and retained only skeleton staff deemed essential to the restructuring process and some of us were now getting convinced that maybe…just maybe, Capital Hill had unlocked a winning formula that would reposition Admarc on the market so that it reclaims its lost glory.

But this could now prove to be a tall order for the organisation, if what its officials have told Parliament is anything to go by.

We are told, as per the proclamations of Admarc Head of Finance, Chrissy Nyirenda; that they went to Treasury with their begging bowl seeking a total of K123.3 billion as spelled out in their budget but unfortunately, their plea for the funds fell on deaf ears as the custodians of the government purse could only doll out a meagre K4 billion, way far lower than the required sum.

Again, it has to be born in mind that for any individual or entity seeking to embark on a new business adventure, there will have to be a lot of financial obligations to be met along the way if at all you are to succeed. Now in this case where a struggling government company is trying to bounce back, not just any other company but one whose major shareholder is the very Secretary to the Treasury, it would not have been far-fetched, therefore, for the Admarc team to have high expectations that their new take-off would see them travel on a road that is paved with gold.

But perhaps Capital Hill, in hindsight, realised what a problem child Admarc has been and hence its reluctance to commit more resources to the management. I would have equally towed a similar route if it were up to me. Ideally, since there might be an element of trust issues after that audit which exposed fraud at the institution the other year, what Capital Hill ought to have done was to place the company under the management of an interim team that was not a core part of the Admarc management that presided over the mess. But we all saw how such attempts by government were thwarted heavily by the staff after Capital Hill had deployed one of the directors from the Ministry of Agriculture to steer the company in an acting capacity as General Manager.

Now, Admarc is not the only boat swimming on troubled waters. The country’s water boards equally seem to be agitated, going by their appeal to government for a greenlight to raise water tariffs. But then, how does one begin to justify a proposition to hike the water tariff by a whole 90 percent and yet people’s disposable income has remained the same? And from where I am standing (I might be wrong) it appears those of us using prepaid water system might be already getting a raw deal. The argument by some of the water boards that they would also want to, through the hike, contain the effect brought by the 25 percent d e v a l u a t i o n makes little sense simply because the consumers they would want to impose the proposed tariffs on also felt its impact and where would they get that extra money?

Our parastatals should simply put their houses in order and once they re-organise themselves, then we can have another round of ‘sober’ talk as they have done with Parliamentary clusters. Otherwise as it is, they have not really impressed and it is a pity that they should, in this day and age, be at the mercy of Capital Hill.

Feedback on ‘No toying with guns’

Joel Chiheni Phiri writes:

What an article. Brilliant one…keep the fire. It just reminds me of a story where someone painted his dog in leopard colours. People were running from it thinking it was a real leopard until officers from national park hunted for it, only to realise it was a dog. So yet we can’t differentiate between a toy gun and real one…Unless you are a trained officer. Otherwise if a criminal is brandishing a gun best way is mowing them down before they shoot. Shoot to kill is the way. I like reading this column and this is one of the best entries…keep it up boss.

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