Young Malawian Woman's Vigil for Father's Benefits Reverberates Across Nation
“We have exhausted all means moving offices up and down only to be given false hopes for the past three years,” said Kamenya
LILONGWE, Malawi— For the whole day and into the dead night Thursday, 23-year-old Hendrina Kamenya camped on the steps of Malawi’s Accountant General office, wrapping her jacket tight against the capital’s rainy season chill, writes Winston Mwale.
Her demand: swift dispensation of owed government death benefits after her father, a former prison guard, died in 2020.
Kamenya’s vigil — a bold act given Malawi’s restrictive cultural norms for women — renewed scrutiny of bureaucratic roadblocks denying public sector families post-employment payouts.
It also underscored calls to increase paltry gratuity sums that fail to cover burial costs, let alone daily needs.
Hendrina disclosed how the delay disrupted her academic pursuits, compelling her withdrawal from Malawi University of Business and Applied Science (MUBAS). Her future at DMI University now hangs in the balance due to financial constraints.
“We have exhausted all means moving offices up and down only to be given false hopes for the past three years,” said Kamenya from Mwanza lacking income since their father’s passing.
The vigil's attention caught the eye of SPC Collen Zamba, prompting a late-night visit to offer assistance.
However, upon arrival, Zamba found Hendrina had departed, having captured the moment in photographs before leaving in a vehicle.
Engaging the Accountant General's (AG) Pensions staff, Zamba uncovered that the processing of her father's death gratuity was finalized on December 18th, slated for disbursement this month.
Assurances were apparaently made to expedite her case and others awaiting pensions.
SPC Zamba commended Hendrina's perseverance, acknowledging her efforts in exposing systemic flaws. As head of civil service at Capital Hill, Zamba departed with commitments from AG Pension staff to prioritize pending cases.
Meanwhile, Mary Navitcha, Thyolo Thava's member of parliament, intended to provide Hendrina with accommodation.
However, upon her arrival, she discovered that another family had already taken Hendrina under their wing.
Efforts continue at Capital Hill to ensure Hendrina's prompt resolution and return to her academic endeavors.
Her determination resonates with numerous Malawians enduring similar struggles.