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No money for Admarc workers retrenchment

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Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi

The government says it does not have readily available funds to finance the retrenchment exercise at the cash-strapped Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc), a month-and-a half after it was shut down.

Admarc Head of Administration and Human Resources Ethel Zilirakhasu has said in a circular to all Admarc employees on October 11 2022, that the exercise will be done in phases and that all affected members of staff will get their retrenchment packages.

Last week, Zilirakhasu told the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Corporations and State Enterprises that the exercise will cost about K8.9 billion.

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But Secretary to the Treasury McDonald Mafuta Mwale said in a written response to our questionnaire that the Ministry of Finance is targeting the mid-year budget review to see how the Admarc retrenchment budget would be slotted in.

“Yes we got the figure of K8.9 billion. It’s currently not in the budget as you would expect. So we will have to look at our numbers during the mid-term budget review and have Parliament’s approval,” Mwale said.

He said the Treasury is in talks with the Ministry of Agriculture, whose minister Lobin Lowe shut down the corporation on August 31 2022, to ensure that the restructured Admarc will be based on a business model that will ensure financial sustainability and self reliance.

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Mwale said the country needs a well-functioning Admarc and that time has come to restore the corporation glory.

“We, as Treasury, will make sure that any public resources invested in Admarc are based on [a] sound business model that will safeguard value for money,” he said.

Zilirakhasu has said in her circular that retrenchment is part of the restructuring process following a functional review carried out in 2018.

She has said some of the positions will be abolished and new ones might be created ahead of a fresh recruitment exercise.

“As a result of this restructuring, the company intends to retrench all its employees and will ensure that all retrenchment procedures are followed. The retrenchment exercise will be carried out in a phased manner.

“After retrenchment, recruitment will be based on the new structure. Former employees of Admarc will be accorded an opportunity to apply and compete for positions they have relevant qualifications, experience and clout in,” her communication reads.

Zilirakhasu said in earlier interviews that they plan to complete the retrenchment and recruitment exercise by March 2023, so that the State-owned grain trader starts on a new slate.

After shutting down the corporation, Lowe sent on forced leave all the 4,687 workers on its books.

Later, the now-dissolved board of directors, led by Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, announced that it would be laying off all of the employees, a departure from the earlier plan of firing 3,122 in order to remain with just 1,565 at the establishment.

Dzonzi lamented the purported lack of corporate culture within Admarc, fraud syndicates and inefficiencies, among other things.

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