WhatsApp Video 2020-08-10 at 09.37.15

Every morning one hussles with the heavy morning traffic to make sure he or she arrives at the place of work in good time. This effort is rewarded with a pay at the end of every month. In other cases an additional reward is given in form of promotion or bonus. However the monthly pay guarantees this employee to give everything within their hold to their employer.

Juliana before her sickness

What happens when this employee gets sick, incapacitated and left with a hidden message of continuous pain? How does the employer come in and ease the burden of pain from his loyal employee?

Most organizations have emergency plans in place to come handy where their employees face unexpected life threatening experiences. While other do not have. Sometimes those that have, make it hard for their employees to access them. The following is an example of a case where an organization that has individuals who do not have compassion for their junior colleagues.

“I am Ms Juliana Mwase aged 45, a widow with two children. I have been employed by the Malawi Against Physical Disabilities (MAP) – Kachere Rehabilitation centre as Senior Accounts Assistant since 2007.

On a work project with Mayor Wild Ndipo of Blantyre city Council

Everything was going on well until in July 2016 i started experiencing low back pains. Went to Mwaiwathu private hospital from where I was referred to QECH – MRI for scanning thereafter to Dr Kampondeni where results showed that I had slipped discs and was told to start physiotherapy and taking of painkillers as treatment.

But my condition worsened I was in constant pain and also having mobility problems was given an elbow clutch. Was on sick leave for 6 months, thereafter in 2017 I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. I became very weak and frail, lost weight and when the then general manager Dr Ndembe saw my condition he recommended that I stay home till my condition improves. After completion of 6 months prescription I resumed work but mobility problem and backache persisted. Then I decided to apply for a loan from the company but was turned down.

During her physiotherapy session

Then in January 2018 while on way to work I lost balance and fell injuring my left limbs. Was taken to Blantyre Adventist hospital for x-ray but no fracture was detected. Sadly, since that incident I could not stand or walk. Later in May same year I was admitted at Kachere Rehabilitation centre for 2 months but my condition remained the same. My doctor at Blantyre Adventist demanded that I must undergo further screening to establish cause of paralysis in my legs. But before that was done the new general manager Mr Dzinkambani invited me to a meeting that was on the 13th of February 2019. Where I was told the following points:

1. You are receiving salary yet you do not come to work contrary to Labour Laws. Mwakhala mukudwala kwa zaka zitatu tsopano. As per law a person is granted a 6 month sick leave on full salary, thereafter receives half salary for six more months. As it is you have been for sick for more than 6 months as such the organization will stop paying you, your salary this February 2019!

2. The MAP Board members have recommended that you be terminated on medical grounds.

3. Since your BT Adventist doctors have recommended another screening, it means that you are still sick.

5. We will assist in the quick process of your Old Mutual pension funds to enable you to do businesses for self sustenance.

You will no longer be on medical insurance cover as such you be going to QECH where they will be giving you same treatment as other patients.

With her two daughters

He asked for my opinion.

Being ignorant of the laws he was referred to, I acknowledged that there was nothing that I could do although they saw for themselves that I was strong and capable of executing my daily duties despite mobility problems.

Few days later, I got text messages from the secretary, Ms Lucy Nyawenda and Ms Lucy Phiri telling me that the boss wanted me to go to Beit Cure international hospital for a new medical report on the 8th March which later was shifted to 14 th March. Contrary to what my doctors at BAH recommend ie screening at Beit Cure it was a mere physical check.

With Zodiak crew,Kazako(left) and Joab(right)

Then in July the MAP GM collected Pension benefits without my knowledge. It appears that he collected the Beit Cure report and used the same to write Old Mutual as back up evidence but not a copy of the communique served to me.

But after getting figures for my would be insurance benefits I noted with dismay that the amount was too little to cater for my everyday needs, the meagre figure that came is so embarrassing to be mentioned here. On the other hand my boss was asking for a cut off from my benefits to recover the loans I owe the company which is half my said benefits. After heated argument through WhatsApp he suggested that he would like to meet with me and discuss two or three things to which I accepted but on the proposed date I lost a nephew so was busy assisting with funeral arrangements, i informed him about this. After the funeral I altered him that I was ready for the meeting but he just responded to say “I will let you know”. This was happening in July 2019. I waited till September only to learn that the company has employed another person to replace me before my issue with the company is ironed out. I kept my patience until late November the GM sent a delegation to my house to convince me to accept and sign Old Mutual forms to which I rejected demanding to see the Beit Cure medical report and also a copy of the letter sent to Old Mutual without my knowledge. At this point the team was shocked to note that the letter to Old Mutual was purportedly written by the

GM without my knowledge.

The following day I was invited to a meeting but I declined because I was not feeling well then.

Finally on the 11th Dec 2019, I went to the said meeting. But I was shocked to note that I was invited there not in good cause. Just entering the GMs office I was welcomed by the lady Administrator Timvenji Gloria Kanu(Nee Madanitsa) instead of greeting me the first words she uttered were ” mwatchenatu mukuoneka bwino” (“you are looking good”)then she asked ” ma diapers mwagula? (Have you bought Adult diapers?), With my heart burning I responded that I had! I asked myself whether the agenda of the meeting was to be asked about the diapers more so in the presence of men? Had it been it was a lady who had no disability would she have received the same treatment or was it because of my disability, which must never be condoned .

In the course of the meeting the GM put it to me that my pension insurance benefits are ready but I vehemently responded to say I was not I will and that I was ready to continue excuting my duties and highlighted that the only problem was mobility to which the administrator chipped in saying that I was still sick and that I was wearing diapers and that I had aid of a catheter …this tore my heart I shed tears.

It’s true I have catheter strapped on and I do use diapers but should these hamper one from executing ones job? As if I am in need to use the toilet the whole day? I also asked them if I was unable to use my hands which my job required more, or if I was a labourer who carries heavy loads.

The GM responded by saying “The nature of this case even if you choose to take it to court you can not be able to hire a Lawyer, Lawyers are expensive and require a lot of money which you do not have”… Intimidating me undressing and harassing me all because of my lack.

This is how MAP handling persons with disabilities in a very unprofessional way. We are talking about the 2020 vision “Leaving none behind” if the very same people claiming to be serving persons with disabilities, they claim to serve are in the forefront discriminating a woman disability a widow like me where will we people with disability get our freedom and rights protected? If MAP/Kachere a rehabilitation centre failing to accommodate their own member of staff what picture are they portraying to the outside world? Can other institution respect rights of people with disability if the organization tasked to oversee them same, is in the forefront of infringing these right? In this age we are talking about inclusion NOT exclusion, equality to employment for all!

Moreover if MAP management feels it’s costly to be giving me transport to and from work everyday let them release one of the company houses situated along the Chipatala Avenue ndidzipita pa wheelchair.”

This is one of the many cases of discriminations that are existing in most of the organizations in the country, to the people with disability and those without alike. We need to do something about our mindset.

Yamikani Kachingwe

Yamikani Nicholas Kachingwe is a Malawian with great interest in current affairs, news and storytelling. Over the years, he has established himself as a a great source of news, a private investigator of issues and whistle blower using various social media platforms.