The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development says it has identified over 500 former members of the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYPs) to be paid terminal benefits following the group’s four-month vigil outside Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
A group of former MYPs, the disbanded and disarmed paramilitary wing of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) during the single-party rule, camped at the memorial tower on the outskirts of Capital Hill for four months demanding their terminal benefits. But government maintained it would not make a pay out before conducting an audit.
Lilongwe Msozi South member of Parliament (MP) Vitus Dzoole Mwale (MCP) asked Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe on what the ministry was doing to ensure that the ex-MYPs are paid their dues to resolve the matter swiftly.
In his response in Parliament, Gondwe said following an audit and verification exercise by the National Audit Office (NAO), about 18 former MYPs had been paid so far from the compensations and losses allocation at the Accountant General.
He said: “As you know, terminal benefits are subject to audit. So far, 18 have been paid and a further 492 are in the process of being paid because they had valid documents as audited by NAO.
“I have met with the representatives of the former MYPs and only those with valid documents will be paid.
“During our last meeting on 6 November, we agreed that those who are camping would leave after the names were released, but we are surprised that they are still camping outside Capital Hill.”
Treasury on Wednesday said the terminal benefits will come from the Pensions and Gratuities Vote which was allocated K70.6 billion in the 2017/18 National Budget.
In the audit, government asked the former MYPs to produce copies of their letters of appointment and they had to be only those who were in service on May 2 1994 when the MYP was disbanded through a repeal Act in Parliament.
The minister said government acknowledged that following the disarmament of MYP in 1993 and repeal of the Act which formally recognised them a year later, MYPs deserved to be paid their terminal benefits.
He said MYP was established in 1965, but the workers were only placed in the civil service in 1992.
Gondwe said conditions for their dismissal, according to the Malawi Young Pioneers Repeal Act of 1994, was that they may be seconded, assigned or transferred within the civil service but not the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) or Malawi Police Service.
Those the ministry responsible for the public service could not find placements for through secondment, transfer, promotion or otherwise assigned would be retired or have their services terminated and paid their terminal benefits.
It is the latter group which the government has been grappling to deal with.
Gondwe said not all were paid between 2012 and 2014 after they presented their grievances to government in 2011.
“While we thought the matter was over, another wave of ex-MYPs came to demand their benefits so the government decided to process these on the basis of what was outlined,” he said.
Responding to a supplementary question from Dzoole Mwale on the timeframe for resolving the matter, Gondwe said the ministry could not give one but for those confirmed, payments could start.
MYP was initially started as an institution to empower the youth with various technical and agricultural skills. However, it was later discovered to be acting as a paramilitary wing of MCP before its disarmament in the transition from single party to plural politics.