Some government ministries and departments as well as private companies and businesses in Chitipa and Mulanje are flooding Admarc depots with letters requesting special favours for their employees to be prioritised when buying maize.
The letters, in fact, request that their employees be sold a full 50 kilogramme (kg) bag each, while ordinary citizens, most of whom are jobless, are restricted to buying just 20 kgs, and sometimes as little as 10 kgs.
Admarc officials at Chitipa Boma, Mulanje Mission and Mbiza in Mulanje District have confirmed receiving a pile of requests on a daily basis from these institutions.
One of the requests, which The Nation has seen, came from a commercial bank requesting the Admarc depot at Chitipa to sell bags of maize to four of its employees at the district’s branch.
At Chitipa Boma Admarc depot, an official conceded that these requests are one of the many challenges the depot is facing, as all those making requests expect to be helped at the expense of the poor.
The official said he refuses to honour such requests, and his stance on the matter has created enmity with those making requests.
Said the official: “Government told us clearly that priority is for the poor and I would not want to change that because if I consider their requests and I am fired from my job, will they be available to take care of my family?”
“In fact, because I have refused to honour the requests, some of them have started spreading lies that we sell maize to vendors. But I will not be moved by such lies, I am here to serve with dignity and I will continue ensuring equity.”
Despite refusing to give them special favours, the official said all workers from various institutions at the boma line up in their own queue and are served just like all maize seekers.
“What we have done is to create a line for them as well. So, all workers stand in a queue and we sell them the same 20kgs that we sell to the rest of the people that want maize,” he said.
At Mulanje Mission Admarc depot, an official said her office was also flooded with such requests, but said:
“If we are to sell them the maize, I tell you, the 150 bags that normally come here will not be enough for them because just at the primary school, we have over 60 teachers, then look at staff from the hospital and the church.
“So, if we sell them all that maize, what will we sell to ordinary citizens who are in dire need of food, and they have no economic activities to find money? Pa umunthu timangoti pa tsiku tiwagulitseko anthu mwina 10 yokha [Based on the Ubuntu concept, we decided just to be selling to at least 10 workers per day. They also buy 20 kgs; we cannot give them a full 50kg bag].”
She said the rationing had already created enmity, but that officials at the depot will not succumb to the pressure.
“People come here, get socked in the rain and it would be very unfair just to sell the grain to workers. We appreciate the work they do in helping the community in various ways, but that must not be the reason to deprive communities of what they seek most,” she said.
At MbizaAdmarc market, about 25 kilometres from MulanjeBoma, an Admarc official said a special arrangement was made between the facility, workers and a village committee overseeing the sale of maize.