Financially crippled Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has suspended seven employees, including leader of the State produce trader’s workers’ union, John Hassan for alleged misconduct.
Admarc board chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi confirmed in an interview yesterday and accused the seven of obstructing management from operating at Admarc head office in Blantyre.
He said the seven, alongside suspended general manager Rhino Chiphiko, will be called to a disciplinary hearing soon.
Dzonzi said: “We had no money and different committees couldn’t meet, but now the government has given us money and we plan to meet soon for the disciplinary hearings.”
But in an interview yesterday, Hassan denied the allegation, saying they never stopped management from operating within the Admarc premises.
He said they only asked management team members to travel to Lilongwe to resolve the issue of delayed staff salary payments.
Hassan said: “It was on June 20 when we had a peaceful meeting with management and they updated us on the issue of delayed salaries. Then we had not received our May salaries so we demanded that management, including the director of finance, should travel to Lilongwe to push for our salaries other than just sitting in their offices. However, they interpreted it as being rude.”
The union leader, who confirmed that the employees have since been duly paid their May and June salaries, said the issue has been presented to the union to map the way forward. He said their suspension letters are open-ended, without the clear period of the suspension.
In June, the Admarc board suspended Chiphiko for purchasing an official vehicle at K107 million without the board’s approval.
Admarc workers subsequently threatened to down tools, asking the Ministry of Agriculture to dissolve the board which they accused of interfering in internal matters.
In a letter dated May 27 2022 addressed to the ministry’s Principal Secretary and copied to Admarc management, the workers said they were not pleased with the decisions taken by the current board of directors in relation to restructuring of the institution.