‘If you can’t change the people, change the people’ (President Lazarus Chakwera, May, 2022)
Here I will dwell on the rot at the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation’s (Admarc). But in passing I will also touch on three issues which have also been making headlines this week. They include the wide-ranging expenditure control measures the President announced and which the new broom at the Office of the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba has started implementing. The others are the controversial South African socialite Zodwa Wabantu and ‘Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola’s ‘achule’.
The measures government has announced to crack down on public expenditure have been adequately addressed on various fora and need no further expounding. Save to say that such control measures were long overdue. The economy is bleeding and needs urgent and tough actions to avert a crisis. But for the control measures to bear fruit, everyone, led by no other than the President himself must sacrifice. We should all suffer together in the hope things will in the long run become better. The Reserve Bank of Malawi’s recent devaluation of the Kwacha, which is erosion of earnings, just shows how bad things are. The country’s failure to access the much-sought after International Monetary Fund’s Extended Credit Facility programme summarises it all. Things could not be worse.
Government this week banned entry into the country of South African socialite Zodwa Rebecca Libram popularly known as Zodwa Wabantu. The star had initially indicated she was excited to come to Malawi as part of the team that is performing at the Amapiano show today. Whether or not she should come to Malawi needs no further debate. She was banned in Zimbabwe and had issues in Zambia for flaunting her nudity on stage. Let her take her nudity elsewhere. Two wrongs do not make a right.
In my last entry I mentioned that Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola is one overzealous politician who needs to slow down. Politics aside, he should not have championed the decommissioning of Aggreko generators at a time Kapichira Hydro Power Station which was supplying 130 megawatts to the national grid, was down. Admitted, the Aggreko deal was expensive but its decommissioning was mistimed. It is better to have expensive electricity than none at all.
Matola seems so drunk on power that even before the ink has dried, from his lofty ministerial seat, he only sees all those who are averse to the President’s travels as achule (frogs). Sometimes I like his militancy in the way he speaks and handles issues, but the same could be his undoing.
I have not gotten over Kondwani Kamiyala’s statement the other day on the page across in his My Diary column when he said Admarc is more rotten than its maize. He was spot on. Admarc is one huge confused octopus which does not know where it is going or coming from or whether or not it is moving at all. The rotten maize we hear about year in year out, is the product of decisions by the group’s senior managers who are the board of directors and management. There seems to be some charm domiciled at Admarc which somehow bewitches those at the helm of the organization. Right now there is total confusion at Admarc. The Board and management don’t talk to each other. The board strikes a deal to sell maize to a Zimbabwean firm without the knowledge of management. Board wants to sell 100 000MT of maize but management says Admarc only has 46 000MT of maize. Board says the Ministry of Agriculture nodded to its plan to sell maize but the ministry says board was advised against the arrangement. With Admarc’s chief executive officer on suspension, we now know the source of confusion at Admarc. It is the Board.
Mr. President you already said that if you can’t change the people, change the people. Now is the time. Fire this board. It is shaming and disgracing your administration. There is a precedent. When there were issues at Mera, board members resigned honourably. But this board at Admarc does not seem cut for that kind of thinking. That is why you should flex your muscles and do the needful. There is no shortage of people who can ably run Admarc.