Mutharika’s Trustee workers strike over non-payment of wages: Seek Malawi gov’t intervention

Employees of Bineth Trust from Malawi’s former President late Bingu wa Mutharika‘s farms in Thyolo and Mitundu in Lilongwe are boycotting work for non-payment of their salaries.

The disgruntled employees are demanding arrears of their salaries which date back to some five months ago.

During the just ending week, scores of the workers journeyed to Blantyre and camped at offices of lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale demanding their payment.

Bineth Trust is one of late Mutharika’s deceased estates and Kaphale is among the estate’s administrators representing the former president’s children.

Peter Mutharika: Accused of abusing Bineth Trust
Peter Mutharika: Accused of abusing Bineth Trust

The workers claim the non-payment of their salaries has made their lives miserable.

They have since complained to government through the Ministry of Justice to intervene in the matter.

The workers complained at the ministry’s Blantyre offices but their issue was referred to relevant authorities at the headquarters at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, according Bineth Trust Office Manager, Chisomo Ng’ombe.

The office manager said the workers had been getting promises that they would be sorted out but to no avail hence seeking government’s mediation to help resolve the matter.

Representative of the workers, a Maganga, said they had persevered without the salaries but they could no longer take it as they have now become destitute.

“We can’t pay rent, we can’t buy food, we can’t send our children to school, everything has just come to a halt. We have been addressed several times but nothing is coming out,” said Maganga, who alleged there were close to 100 workers from Thyolo’s Ndata Farm still waiting for their salary arrears.

According to Maganga, the remaining employees include, among others, drivers, farm workers, security guards and filling station attendants.

Some workers claim they are failing to leave the farm because they fear thugs may take advantage of the situation to ruin the property which is worth millions of kwachas.

Apart from Ndata and Mitundu farms, other workers from Salima, Kasungu and Nsanje are also reported to have gone for several months without pay.

Bineth Trust, which government has snatched from the family and is turning it into a public trust, has about 1000 employees in its establishments across the country.

The Joyce Banda administration claims since the death of Mutharika the Trust has been abused by his children hence its decision to turn it into a public trust.

It says the children- daughters Duwa and Tapiwa and son Madalitso- (who were administrators including Mutharika’s young brother, Peter) had failed to manage the entity as a charitable body citing several bank withdrawals and payments from the Trust’s accounts which it claims were not in tandem with its charitable objectives.

But the late Mutharika’s family has expressed disappointment with government’s decision arguing the move was aimed at victimizing the family.

“We feel the family is being dragged into political warfare which is affecting the innocent children and grandchildren of the late President Mutharika.

“The family asks to be left alone and not treated like public enemy number one. We do not influence policy or hold any titles of higher office,” one of Mutharika’s daughter, Duwa said a few weeks ago.

Government has since identified 17 subsidiaries of Bineth Trust which include the Bingu Education Fund, the Ethel Mutharika Memorial Fund, Ndata Farm, Sangwani Estate, African Dream Foundation, University of Southern Malawi, Nansadi Filling Station, Bineth Trust Complex in Limbe (formerly Lonrho House), Bineth Transportation Service, Bineth Real estate and properties services, Bineth Investment and the Ethel Mutharika Foundation.

The name Bineth stemmed from Mutharika’s first name Bingu and his first wife’s name, Ethel (late).

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