Malawi’s consumer watchdog, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has described as inhuman the bizarre conduct by Unilever Malawi to donate expired margarine to inmates at Zomba Maximum Prison.
Unilever Malawi on December 17th donated to each inmate at the prison four pieces of expired 200mg Blue Band/Rama margarine as Christmas gifts, which could be a health hazard.
The company’s Country Manager, Chikondi Ng’ombe told Nyasa Times that Unilever made a donation to the inmates of Zomba Central Prison of margarine and savoury powder.
Ng’ombe confirmed that the margaline was expired product.
But in a statement made available to Nyasa Times, Ng’ombe said “Unilever made this donation on the understanding and agreement that the margarine would be recycled and used for the express purpose of a soap-making project at the prison”
The statement reads: “It should be noted that the donation was made to the prison as Unilever Malawi is no longer manufacturing soap and the prison has a soap plant that they use for soap production.”
Ng’ombe said the savoury powder “has not expired” and can safely be consumed by the in-mates of the prison.
“Unilever carries out stringent tests on all its products to ensure that consumers receive quality products,” said Ng’ombe.
But, Cama has questioned the company’s gesture and has since demanded immediate apology.
”What Unilever has done is as good as wanting to kill consumers because poor institutions like Unilever have an international brand image that must protected, but this action has revealed that Unilever have no moral ethical values,” Cama’s Executive Director, John Kapito told Nyasa Times.
Kapito said it was questionable if all Unilever products on the market have the same qualities that the company claims to have.
”It should be noted that companies like Unilever have no place in Malawi and we are suspicious of their many corporate social responsibilities whether they are done in good faith”.
Kapito warned that his institution would launch a campaign for consumers not to buy certain Unilever products following the donation of expired margarine.
”We demand Uniliver to make apologies in both print and electronic media over their inhuman behaviour prisons are not dumping sites for bad products,” he added.
Also commenting on the matter on social media, Stanley Onjezani Kenani wrote: “I can’t understand why Unilever Malawi donated expired margarine to prisoners. And the explanation by management at Unilever — that the margarine should have been used as soap — does not make sense. Why didn’t they just donate soap? Prisoners’ rights are human rights. What Unilever has done is criminal.”
The consumer and human rights activist said there were many organisations in Malawi with rotten and expired products that keep on donating to Malawilans in the form of medicines and food.
”Unfortunately government authorities have never put in place mechanisms to check the quality of such products and Malawi is not a dumping site of such products in the form of donations”.
Unilever Malawi has over the years scaled down its operations in the country after stopping local production of its non-strategic brands in the wake of untenable level of debt of close to US$20 million to its parent company.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :