The Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Corporations and State Enterprises has summoned Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) management to shed light on recent developments, including the shutting down and consequential sending on forced leave of all employees.
In a September 26 2022 letter which we have seen, the committee is asking for explanations from Admarc, especially on circumstances surrounding the decisions in question, claiming that Malawians stand to bear the brunt of them.
“The aim of the meeting is for the committee to be briefed on what led to the decision to send on forced leave all employees and how long will the suspension take and what impact this has had on Malawians,” the letter reads.
Committee chairperson Isaac Kanike said in an interview Wednesday that the meeting is crucial, citing the “strategic nature of the institution”.
He said the decision surrounding the State owned grain trader is ill-timed since some people in 27 districts of the country face hunger.
Kanike added that the recent decision to lay off 4,687 workers as part of a restructuring exercise contradicts the job creation agenda which government has been preaching about.
“We are just reading in the papers about all the things happening at Admarc but this is the time when people have harvested their crops and they will want Admarc to sell their commodities to. Some areas of the country do not have enough food and that’s where the corporation comes in handy. As such, it does not sound well to have it closed down and its workers suspended or laid off,” he said.
One of the senior managers at the corporation said it would be difficult for them to appear before Parliament because they are on forced leave.
But Principal Secretary for Agriculture Sandram Maweru Wednesday said management is in place at Admarc and that all necessary duties are being carried out, adding Malawians will be updated on the restructuring exercise.
“Be patient. When time is ripe, you will be told about what has transpired. The nation will be told. Otherwise, management is in place at Admarc,” Maweru said.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture Gracian Lungu said on Tuesday that, in the absence of the board, whose term of office expired on September 22 2022, controller of agriculture services Jerome Nkhoma is the man in charge at the institution.
On August 31 2022, Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe shut down Admarc and sent on forced leave all employees on grounds of alleged high levels of corruption, theft and professional negligence.