Farmers World retired employee walks 300km on foot to access his dues

Call it modern slavery! A Farmers World retired employee, Gibson Phiri, recently walked close to 300 kilometres from Mkanda Trading Centre in Mchinji to his employer’s Head Office at Kanengo, Lilongwe, to inquire about his outstanding dues.

Old man

Phiri, 57, comes from Kajepo Village in Traditional Authority Mzukuzuku Jere in Mzimba and worked for one of Malawi’s leading farm input supplier as a porter for 22 years.

He voluntarily retired in January 2019 due to ill-health and patiently waited for Farmers’ World to process his dues.

However, the dues were not forthcoming until the frail widower, who has been living with his three unemployed children, undertook a journey to Kanengo to demand explanation on his pension and other benefits.

By the time went to Mkanda Trading Centre for the interview with Phiri, his family was surviving on begging.

“My employer is very heartless. Imagine when my wife died two years ago, they never helped me. And I am not healthy either, yet they are withholding my money,” said Phiri as he held tears in his eyes.

Phiri said he could have died by now if it was not for the generosity of communities surrounding the trading centre.

“Farmers World has tortured me to the bone. Amwenye amenewa saganizira za munthu [These Indian investors do not care about us]. It is such torture that prompted me to walk from here to Kanengo to demand explanation on my money,” he said.

One of the residents at Mkanda Trading Centre, Lucius Phiri, condemned the management of Farmers World for abdicating its obligations on their retired employee.

Phiri could not understand how a big company could allow its former employee rot with poverty “while his money is stuck somewhere”.

“Is it not possible for HRDC [Human Rights Defenders Coalition] to fight for such people? I mean, we need a mass demonstration to denounce torture that Malawians are going through in companies owned by Indian investors. It’s very unfair for someone to walk all these kilometres just to find out where his money is,” he said.

But Farmers World Human Resource Manager, Richard Kachere, justified the anguish Phiri went through, arguing his company did not flout any labour law by subjecting the retired employee a 12-month wait before he could access his dues.

Kachere accused this reporter of harbouring a personal vendetta with Farmers World.

“Firstly, I would like to express my disappointment with the presentation of the issue brought to us by you. As a journalist, you must be very aware that you make a stand ONLY AFTER hearing both sides – those are key tenets of natural justice. Unfortunately, you have solely concluded that Mr. Phiri was ill-treated” without cross-checking and verifying that point with us. That must be condemned in the strongest sense from our side as it appears that you have already made your stand and you are now working backwards to buttress that “fact”,” he said.

Kachere further threatened that his company would commence lawsuit against this reporter if he went ahead to write and publish the story about Phiri’s suffering.

“We understand our view is clear and understandable, and we would like to reiterate the fact that anything diverting to our laid out facts, which shall be meant to deliberately tarnish our image and taint our public view (as already observed in the email below) shall be vigorously contested and that shall include litigation against yourselves, if necessary,” threatened Kachere.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times has been reliably informed that Phiri received his dues this year and has since relocated to Mzuzu. However, Kachere could not provide the date when Phiri got his payment.

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Matongonyoli
Matongonyoli
9 months ago

Put Phiri on TV and Kachere too.

Jason Mlowoka
Jason Mlowoka
9 months ago

These are what we call myopic thinking by whosoever originated this article. Much as his cause was good, he brings out very amateurish suggestions and tries as much as possible to sweeten his report. Are CSOs meant to demonstrate whenever there is an issue to contend with? Such type of archaic approaches is what is taking the country backwards. This person should have been led to appropriate offices for him to be assisted accordingly instead of talking of a demonstration. By the way people should know that demonstrations worldwide are the last resort after all possible avenues have failed but… Read more »

Prophetic
Prophetic
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Mlowoka

Yes CSO muli Kuti?

oswin
oswin
9 months ago

From Mkanda mchinji to Lilongwe is about 136.4km not 300km.

Amuna Kudambo
Amuna Kudambo
9 months ago
Reply to  oswin

That’s one way – return? Isn’t it about 300kms.

Chingwalo
Chingwalo
9 months ago

One thing this journalist is not mentioning is that he asked for money for him not to publish this story….so who could be telling the truth here…

Mtete
Mtete
9 months ago

Find Phiri. He will fill you in on what transpired after you first interviewed him. Thereafter you may decide to challenge pigheaded Kachere although I don’t think that will be necessary because, I am sure, he will not have the stomach to come out from his cocoon.

Keen Observer
Keen Observer
9 months ago

That is why Idi Amini sent Amwenye packing cos all they know is exploiting the indigenous people in their own country. And this Kachere guy, that’s the problem of Malawians they back their masters & left their own languishing.

Mehboob
Mehboob
9 months ago

I can’t believe that u don’t know that farmers world is not owned by Indians but Greek. And the other thing why u had to brought the issue of race here ? If injustice is done then ur job is just to report the injustice and the one who has been subjected to the injustice can always go to labour office to report and seek the help. Don’t spread hatred and racism .

MMalawi
MMalawi
9 months ago
Reply to  Mehboob

But the way I understand the article, it is not the reporter who insinuates that the company is owned by Indians. It s rather the interviewee who says that and the reporter quoted the interviewee as saying that. The problem is that the reporter didnt do his research on the ownership.

H E Nyaphapi One
9 months ago

The guy is strong. Can walk 300kms!

Fimoks
Fimoks
9 months ago

Farmers World is not owned by anyone of Indian origin.

The director is Greek.

Nebraska
Nebraska
9 months ago

Point of correction from mkanda mchinji to kanengo can not be 300 km

MMalawi
MMalawi
9 months ago
Reply to  Nebraska

assuming he walked right back…

piyasi
piyasi
9 months ago
Reply to  MMalawi

Kikikiki indeed these indians they don”t appreciate Am sure Trade Union take these matter serious and visit one by one indians companies you will e\fell sorry how fellow Malawians are being treated

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