UNDP boss Richard Dictus has up to Friday to respond to a ‘petition’ the workers delivered last Monday to his office. They went into a brief ‘sit-in’ and sent their representatives into meeting with top officials.
The local UN staff are demanding that their perks be tagged onto the dollar trading mark, off from the Malawi Kwacha, after a recent 50% or so devaluation cut their take-home by about half.
A source who is part of the discussions, said they did not want any media involvement as this is a closed official matter for the UN, and that they are amicably discussing with top officials to reach a better understanding.
“We have given them till Friday to positively respond to our demands, failing which we will roll out a fully fledged stay-away. We are not asking for a pay rise, we are simply demanding that our perks be pegged to the dollar so that the issue of devaluation does not bite us hard,” said the source in the capital city, Lilongwe.
At the time of posting this story, a number of payments to contractors in various projects had also started worrying, as the melee had created hops in the financial system and there was no-one to attend to obligated payments, some as old as two weeks.
Dictus, however, is on record as assuring the native employees that UNDP was discussing the matter with the head office in New York and would soon revert back to the employees. He did not commit himself to anything.
Malawi devalued its currency following sour relations with donors that are now back, after late president Bingu wa Mutharika refused to lower the power of the local Kwacha amid demands by the IMF and the donor world.
New president Mrs. Joyce Banda responded to the donors and told Malawians she had no choice but go ahead with the devaluation so that the country’s economy, that drastically suffered and survived on nearly forced taxes on the population, could come back.
She has since asked Malawians to bear with the after-effects, which, she said, will not be eternal.