This week we learned from the media that the board of State produce trader, the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has fired chief executive officer (CEO) Foster Mulumbe and director of operations Feckson Kantonga for their alleged role in the Zambia maize saga.
The reports quoted unnamed, but corroborated, sources that the board made the decision to dismiss the two at a meeting it heard in Lilongwe on Wednesday. The decision to fire the two followed the board’s special task force which probed the duo following recommendations of two commissions of inquiry into the controversial Zambia maize imports.
My warning to the country’s parastatal CEOs now as I did in December 2016, is that they should resist the forces of evil that are always knocking on their door. What they should know is that when they succumb to evil, they will not always be protected. Someone said you can’t kill an elephant and expect the whole village not to know. Things have changed.
It is their names that will be dragged in the mud. When they are being forced to do some corrupt practices they should always be mindful that it is them, and their families that will suffer the consequences should the scheme bungle.
Lucky if the culprits are protected as is the case with those involved in the K577 billion graft case now reduced to K236 billion. For now, the companies and individuals involved are still being protected. But it is only a matter of time that the fortieth day will come. And I wish to state here that the alleged culprits don’t have a free conscience.
The people who are luring you into corruption will be looking away when the noose starts tightening around your neck. At the very worst, they will wash their hands clean. I have a strong suspicion that this is what has been happening not only in Admarc but also in many other parastatals. Someone must have promised those officers protection in a bigger scheme which is yet to be known. Otherwise, why did government and the board have to be prodded to suspend the Admarc bosses for their acts in the deal?
It did not have to take the whole country to scream against the alleged corrupt deal by the Admarc officials for the board to suspend the Admarc boss and pave the way for investigations in alleged underhand dealings in the purchase of maize from Zambia at a dizzying $35.4 million (K26 billion), that have now led to dismissal.
Apart from the Zambian maize imports, Admarc has again earned a bad name over the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) K2.9 billion Price Stabilisation Fund maize deal. Mera used K2.9 billion to purchase maize for sale in Admarc markets. But Admarc has said it will only pay back K1.9 billion. It is a known fact that many parastatals are abused but the rot at Admarc is so sickening. There is need for an independent audit at Admarc to establish what happened to the missing K1 billion. The firing of the two officers should not be the end of the story.
Admarc’s image as a corporate entity is now tattered and its board now has a colossal task of sprucing up the corporation’s image. The individuals alleged in the scam also have to clean up their names. What’s the benefit?
That is why I will forever commend former Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) finance director Bettie Mahuka for refusing to be part and parcel of underhand dealings when she opted to resign from her position rather than betray her conscience. Mahuka refused to be a signatory to some cheques that would have seen billions of money leaving Escom in payments she felt were unmerited.