The mass registration exercise that has started in six districts namely Mchinji, Salima, Kasungu, Nkhotakota, Dowa and Ntchisi is a good development.
Malawi is the only country in Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) with no national IDs.
These IDs ease identification of citizens and access to vital services, including healthcare and banking.
But these exercises might flop because of degrading treatment of employees who are going to carry out mass registration.
That about 40 out of the 200 shortlisted have abandoned the job due to low pay is a sign that all is not well.
The offer is unreasonable, especially considering that these supervisors and officers will be moving from one district to the other in the course of their work.
They are deployed to conduct a very important national initiative in the history of the country.
It is embarrassing that Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), in their advertisement, did not indicate that applicants would actually be treated as volunteers.
It is surprising to hear that the K150 000 and K120 000 stipends allocated for supervisors and officers, respectively, is meant for accommodation, food and transport.
With no subsistence allowances, simple arithmetic shows everything the applicants never expected—slavish labour.
According to the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia, government funded 60 percent of the project via the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Donors injected 40 percent to the basket fund mechanism.
Government’s involvement could have helped to make working conditions better for the workers.
Capital Hill is aware of the skyrocketing cost of living in the country.
The 25-day stipend means an individual will be getting less than K6 000 a day for accommodation, food and transport.
This is total exploitation.
Not even a messenger or driver in the civil service gets this pittance for working away from home.
Think of these supervisors and officers who have nowhere to put up in Lilongwe or where they will be deployed.
The K6 000-a-day allowance, which will be paid in two phases, puts employees in temptations and kills their motivation to work dedicatedly.
Think of a worker who has no money in his pocket and meets a foreigner who gives him K100 000 just to get a Malawian ID. Can he resist the offer?
To cap it all, this stipend will be taxed and employees will be going to the field with half of their pay to collect the remainder after the completion of the phase.
This to me only puts the life of these workers in danger as they do not know where they are going, the cost of living and their financial security
Entrepreneur Andre Lavoe’s article, Three Reasons You Should Increase Employee Pay Now, articulates that good perks help recruit and retain top talent.
The 2015 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation survey revealed that 61 percent of job seekers choose to take a new job because of better pay.
If you cannot lure the right employees for the job, take a hard look at the payroll.
Good pay improves employee satisfaction. For employees to perform well, take their happiness and health into consideration.
Helping employees manage stress improves their satisfaction and performance. Help them make ends meet and it will improve their productivity because they will no longer be distracted by financial problems.
Lastly, good pay improves employer’s brand which needs to be jealously protected.
But it is hard to protect a brand when workers are not happy with the way they are treated.
It is not surprising that some of the recruits are walking out of the national registration job.
The remnants could be desperate victims of the country’s massive youth unemployment.
This should not give government and its partners an excuse to abuse poor Malawians. n