ACB should move in on fired NFRA CEO, DOF, demand ‘concerned employees’, ACB non-committal

While welcoming the sacking of National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nasinuku Saukila, and Director of Finance (DOF) Peter Salamba, some NFRA employees have called on the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to arrest them for alleged corruption and abuse of office.

“Through these officials, and a few remaining others, the NFRA has lost millions of Kwacha through corruption and abuse of office, which mainly took the form of shortcuts in procurement, including engaging suppliers who had lost on procurement bids,” said a middle manager, who claimed represents concerned NFRA members of staff at the headquarters in Kanengo -Lilongwe.

Board Chair Denis Kalekeni

According to one manager, who preferred anonymity, the reasons that the NFRA Board of Directors have highlighted for sacking the two officers were “a mere drop in the ocean”, alleging that the CEO and DOF had amassed “hundreds of millions of Kwacha through shady deals in contravention of set up company rules and guidelines, including the public procurement law.

According to NFRA Board Chair Dennis Kalekeni, the two officials have been removed from their positions following an audit exercise, which unearthed financial irregularities, including the diversion of K611 million meant for procurement of maize.

Another NFRA employee told Nyasa Times in a separate interview that the ACB should investigate alleged nepotistic tendencies by the dismissed executives when it came to hiring and promoting employees. She said the two were very harsh and provided unfriendly environment to all NFRA employees.

“The CEO and the Director of Finance were in the habit of employing and promoting from specific tribes and groups of people at the expense of others with desired educational qualifications and experience. They never liked highly educated employees than themselves. They made sure a plot was created just for such employees to be dismissed from NFRA.

“A serious investigation into this malpractice would reveal enormous suffering that marginalized groups of people at NFRA have endured
under these people. It is a relief that they have finally been uprooted but the pain and scars remain,” she said.

ACB Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala told Nyasa Times in an interview that the Anti-Corruption Bureau does not have full details of the issue.

“However, the Bureau will review the information from media reports to determine whether there is any suspected offence to warrant the Bureau’s action in accordance with the mandate of the Bureau,” she said in an interview on Thursday.

The graft-busting body arrested former NFRA’s Deputy CEO Gerald Viola last year for suspected disregard for procurement procedures. He was alleged to have unilaterally generated a Local Purchase Order (LPO) 6750, which had obligated a company called Missies Trading to supply 10,000 metric tonnes of maize to NFRA.

Viola denied the accusation. The owner of Missies Trading Chrispin Chingola also denied having received any LPO from Viola.

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