This was Wednesday and the deputy Minister of Lands Abida Sidik Mia was in the office in the capital Lilongwe with the Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, sharing notes and boom, their meeting was thrown off-balance when they watched on TV a breaking news, to the effect that workers at Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) had shut down offices for the senior officers, citing management’s failure to address their concerns.
The TV report further said that the volatile situation in the Mzuzu regional offices between junior workers and their bosses had been obtaining for months without being addressed.
It was at this point that a decision was taken to dispatch the Deputy Minister to take care of the situation from further explosion and on Thursday, 10 o’clock in the afore noon, the deputy minister was in Mzuzu in a meeting with the workers trade union as well as management.
Speaking to the media after a one hour closed up session, the Union’s president, Lawrence Kainja, told reporters that the meeting had gone on successfully with most of their demands met.
“We are happy the Deputy Minister came and we are also delighted that our meeting has been successful. We have agreed that management will meet some of the demands the workers were complaining about. Other demands will be investigated before a decision is made. So, it was a fruitful meeting and we are happy” said Kainja without divulging further information.
Taking her turn, the deputy minister bemoaned the laxity in not showing leadership when such grievances emerged.
“They were petty social welfare grievances not befitting intervention. One wonders why such grievances were left unattended to for some time by management, “said the Deputy Minister.
“We have found a common ground with the workers union and management has committed that it will address the concerns with the urgency they deserve. The junior staff are happy, management is also happy. We have opened a new chapter.”
The Deputy Minister took the opportunity to send a message to all directors in the Ministry not to abuse junior staff saying “what happened here at Malawi Housing Corporation regional office in Mzuzu should provide a case study on how directors or anyone looking after junior workers ought not to behave.”
“Dr Chakwera’s administration wants the workforce to be productive and they can only be productive if they are being treated well, are being given incentives and are having their concerns taken into consideration by their immediate bosses,” she said.
Much as they kept a tight lid on what they agreed, this reporter learnt that the parties to the meeting agreed to maintain the decision management said had taken to transfer the Regional Manager and other two senior officers to another duty working station. They also agreed to reverse some of the decisions the transferred manager took in demoting other workers without any legal basis whatsoever.
After the meeting, the Deputy Minister proceeded to inspect houses built by MHC at Chasefu and Kaning’ina. In an interview with the press after the tour, Abida Mia said Chakwera’s administration will build decent houses for the men and women in uniform so they can get rid of national shame of accommodating these officers in old, tiny and dilapidated houses.