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Government struggles to pay interns

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By Jameson Chauluka:

Over 2,000 fresh graduates from various universities under the ongoing government internship programme are struggling in their work, having not received their September allowances.

Government recruited the 2,227 interns and placed them in government departments, agencies and parastatals on a 10-month stint as a way of dealing with youth unemployment.

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However, the interns, who started work on September 10, have not been paid their monthly stipends.

Some of the interns, who pleaded for anonymity, said they have been reduced to beggars.

“Instead of the internship programme being the relief we needed, we have become yet again a burden to our parents. We cannot find money for transport to work and lunch,” said one of the interns working in Blantyre.

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Another intern, who is working in Lilongwe, said she was considering quitting the programme, arguing that she is ashamed of begging.

“This is a well-funded programme. We were told that the money was already there but it looks like the government was not ready to roll out the programme,” she said.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Joseph Mwandidya, confirmed that the interns are yet to receive their September allowances but said the government was processing the allowances.

Mwandidya said, being the first month of the programme, his ministry faced many challenges marrying the interns with their bank accounts so as to avoid ghost interns.

“The cheques have been deposited and, by tomorrow [Monday], some of the ninterns, depending on their banks, will start receiving the allowances. Call them on Thursday or Friday next week and all of them will tell you that they have received their allowances,” he said.

According to Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Francis Kasaila, the government intends to recruit 5,000 interns.

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