Saturday, April 13

Stolen Maize Shakes Up NFRA

The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA)  board has fired chief executive officer (CEO) Brenda Kayongo and acting director of operations Symon Banda for alleged negligence in connection with the missing 13 truckloads of maize.

But one month after the board recommended the firing of the duo with immediate effect, no communication has been made to the affected officers, Banda confirmed on Monday.

On her part, Kayongo, when asked yesterday if she received any communication after her disciplinary hearing, said the board was the best entity to comment on the matter.

Minutes of the NFRA board extraordinary meeting held on March 28 2023 we have seen show that a recommendation was made to fire the two for alleged incompetence and gross negligence.

Reads the minutes in part co-signed by board chairperson Dennis Kalekeni and Department of Statutory Corporations Principal Secretary Penjani Kayira: “The two officers were charged with incompetence and gross negligence. The disciplinary committee found both the chief executive officer, Mrs. Brenda Kayongo, and the former acting director of operations, Mr. Symon Banda, guilty of incompetence and gross negligence.

Kayondo: The board is better-placed to comment

“Mr. Symon Banda is currently working as depot supervisor… The meeting, therefore, resolved that Mr. Symon Banda be summarily dismissed from his employment…that the employment contract for Mrs. Brenda Kayongo as chief executive officer be terminated with immediate effect.”

The minutes state that the 13 trucks of maize which were loaded in the Northern Region for delivery to maize silos at Kanengo in Lilongwe were not delivered between August and September 2022.

The transporter involved was Smolet Kachere of Kachere Agriculture Trading, according to the minutes.

The minutes added that Kayongo and Banda were called to a disciplinary hearing on March 15 2023.

Kalekeni yesterday did not pick his phone or respond to a WhatsApp text that soughthis comment on the matter.

But the report of the disciplinary hearing observed that there was no good relationship and teamwork between security, operations and the CEO as it took time about three weeks for Banda,  to report to the CEO about the missing van of maize that came to NFRA.

“This is a sign of both incompetence and negligence…the panel observed that Kachere as a transporter, had the following challenges: certificate of registration of Kachere Transport was that of a trading company not a transporter, he used fake documents such as blue books and certificate of fitness to get the contract, he did not have the capacity because all the cars were discovered not his [among others],” reads the report.

It says Banda acknowledged that he did not put in place a security measure such as having a security guard to escort each loaded truck of maize which resulted in some people diverting the 13 missing trucks carrying the Strategic Grain Reserves maize to elsewhere not to Kanengo silos.

The report says the CEO failed to manage her employees as in her explanation, she blamed her junior, Banda, as the main cause of the mess

“This was an act of incompetence. She also showed signs of incompetence as she never made sure that there were proper measures put in place, considering that NFRA was doing this [uplifting maize] for the first time,” it reads.

But sources at NFRA expressed surprise that the board was failing to communicate to the affected officers yet it is clear that their dismissals were with immediate effect

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