Admarc board of directors says it suspended general manager Rhino Chiphiko for the purchase of a K107 million official vehicle because the conduct bordered on impunity and wastage.
Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) board chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi said this in an interview on Thursday when asked for his reaction to a Concerned Members of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) national’s chairperson Alex Major letter urging Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe to reinstate Chiphiko and subsequently dissolve the board.
Kusamba Dzonzi said investigations established that the procurement of the Nissan Patrol was unprocedural and not sanctioned by the board.
He said: “What our superiors can do to us is beyond us, but what is important is we are discharging the duties that they asked us, we follow the rule of law and we are not going to entertain any impunity or wastage . If we have to cure Admarc we need somebody with the highest level of integrity and patriotism.”
In the letter, Major threatened to mobilise Malawians to seal all Admarc offices if the demand is not met by Sunday, May 29 2022.
Lowe said he was yet to see the letter and, therefore, could not comment.
Meanwhile, in a press statement issued on Thursday, Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Sandram Maweru said the ministry has seconded its Department of Agriculture Extension Services director Jerome Chim’gonda as acting general manager of Admarc effective May 26 2022.
Reacting to the developments, Centre for Social Accountability Initiative executive director Willy Kambwandira said in an interview Admarc is a public entity that runs on taxpayers’ money, as such, politicisation of the institution must be avoided.
He said the demands by Major and his group threaten smooth operation of State companies.
Kambwandira said: “We believe this in not just public perception management. The purchase of the vehicle was absurd and regrettable given the current economic situation, failures and performance of Admarc. It is like we have people who are living in a different world.”
Chiphiko received his suspension letter on May 20 2022 and he is expected to appear before the board after 14 days.
In his defence at the time, he argued that he had opted for a lower cost vehicle than his entitlement, a Toyota Land Cruiser TX, because he was equally considerate of Admarc’s financial position.
The 2021 Malawi Government Annual Economic Report indicated that as at half year of the 2020/21 financial year, Admarc recorded a net loss-after-tax of K3.7 billion.