Members of staff in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security have been told to improve on their performance or risk being fired from the Civil Service.

Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Mwanamvekha, sounded the warning in Blantyre on Monday during an interface meeting with members of staff from Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (ADD).

Mwanamvekha said he has been receiving reports that some officers were absconding from work, taking unnecessary leaves and that some were reporting for work very late.

He said this was disheartening considering that the Agriculture Ministry is the back bone of the country’s economy.

“In case you don’t know, our ministry is very key and that is why it is getting a huge chunk of money in as far as budget allocations are concerned. It is therefore sad to hear that some officers report for work at their own time with some not coming at all. This must stop or else we will take stiff action against them,” Mwanamvekha warned.

The minister said though there were some challenges that the ministry was facing such as morbidity, unfilled posts and limited funding, these should not be taken as excuses for officers to be absconding from work.

“We are also planning to transfer officers who have overstayed in particular offices because that also contributes to non-performance,” he said.

Moreover, the minster called on District Commissioners (DCs) who are controlling officers in the decentralized set up to discipline staff members who are not performing.

“May I ask District Commissioners to deal with officers who are not complying with government rules and regulations. Let the DCs discuss if we could transfer some of these staff from one district to another as a way of reducing rates of absenteeism from work,” said Mwanamvekha.

In his remarks, Bennet Nkasala, District Commissioner for Blantyre assured the minister that he would make sure that officers absconding from work are dealt with accordingly.

“DCs now have the power to suspend, transfer or take any action they feel is worth against any officer who fails to deliver as mandated. We will monitor the officers and should there be anyone found absconding from work, we will deal with him or her accordingly,” explained Nkasala.

On his part, Martin Kausi Acting Programme Manager for Blantyre ADD concurred with the DC that appropriate action would be taken against lazy officers.