Following a directive from our Most Senior Executive (MSE) Chief Apostle Professor Abiti Dr Joyce Befu, MG 66, we have decided to nominate the Sugar Corporation of Malawi (SUCOMA) presently known as Illovo Sugar Malawi Limited as Malawi’s modern hero. What this means is that all the people that work there today, that worked there in yester years and their remote managers jointly deserve the Interfaith International Prayerhouse’s extremely rare congratulations.
We, her MSE’s juniors and proud messengers, wish to remind politicians, economists, academics, students, oncologists, lawyers, liars, teachers, cheats, cashgatists and tractorgatists that Sucoma/Illovo Sugar has been a steady and proud contributor to Malawi’s development efforts. In export terms, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar’s major product, sugar, has steadily maintained its position as the country’s second or third most important foreign exchange earner after tobacco and sometimes, tea. That is why we have declared Sucoma/Illovo Sugar Malawi’s modern hero.
Since its establishment over some decades ago, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar has always provided enough good quality refined sugar for all Malawians who can afford it. No discrimination. Many Malawians, in rural as well as urban areas, will testify today that Sucoma/Illovo Sugar’s major product, sugar has been available in Malawi sans frontieres. Unlike some core service and product providers and producers in Malawi, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar has never blamed anybody for its own problems. For example, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar uses sugarcane molasses to generate its own electricity. Yes, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar produces enough electricity to run all its machines all year round. That is why we have declared Sucoma/Illovo Sugar a modern hero.
There was a time; a time when Escom had a lot of problems with electricity production. You will recall those days when government ministers blamed monkeys for blackouts. At that time or soon thereafter, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar challenged that were it allowed, it could boost national electricity output by feeding its power into the national grid. As expected, the people responsible for electricity rejected the offer, preferring that Malawi remained in darkness. Sucoma/Illovo Sugar tucked in its proposal and went ahead to produce its main product, sugar, sweet Malawi sugar. However, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar still challenges that given an opportunity today, it can prove to Malawians that it has the capacity to boost electricity production in Malawi for Malawians. Don’t ask how we know this. We own this country and all the information about it is at our fingertips.
There was a time; a time many people have chosen not to remember, but a time the people of the Lower Shire Valley fondly remember, a time when Gwanda Chakuamba was Bingu wa Mutharika’s Minister of Agriculture. At that time, the Valleans recall, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar was asked to experiment with maize production and indeed Sucoma/Illovo Sugar agreed wholeheartedly and behold it had a bumper maize harvest. Even today, Sucoma/Illovo Sugar produces enough maize for its social responsibility activities in and around Dwangwa and Chikhwawa. That is why we have declared Sucoma/Illovo Sugar a modern hero.
Sucoma/Illovo Sugar has proved that if this country, this multiethnic, multiparty, multi-problem, this federal republic had policies that encouraged capacity maximisation, we should have been way up on the UNDP Development Index. If firms such as Sucoma/Illovo Sugar were encouraged to diversify to other areas of national importance, such as maize, cassava, millet and sorghum production, the Federal Republic of Malawi would not be a laughing stock, a 50 –year-old energetic beggar.
We believe that if serious companies such as Sucoma/Illovo Sugar were given the opportunity to handle the Greenbelt Initiative, we would have already seen the initiative’s fruits. The Federal Republic of Malawi would have already forgotten about hunger and abject poverty because we would have stopped relying on smallholder farmers whom we have unashamedly exploited since time immemorial.
To aggravate their situation, we have unashamedly ‘stolen’ the 177 tractors and 144 maize shellers (ka) Ngwazi Bingu wa Mutharika got for us on a $55 million loan from India. Unashamedly, the so-called farmers’ organisations, Nasfam, FUM, Cisanet, you name them, have been tongue-tied about this wholesale ‘robbery’ of national agricultural assets and still claim to be relevant and representative of the smallholder farmers. Shame to those who enjoy seeing our smallholder farmers struggling with the hand hoe year in year out.
Let Sucoma/Illovo Sugar produce sugar and staples for the nation because it has proved that it has the capacity to do so. That way, our government will not be forced into getting loans and buying agricultural equipment that ends up in some people’s ‘pockets’.