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National

16 declared ‘persona non-grata’ at Macra

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Godfrey Itaye

The recruitment of top executives at Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) without following procedures during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has led to the nullification of employment contracts of those involved.

Office of the Ombudsman, in investigations whose findings were presented yesterday, announced the nullification decision. Nullified contracts include those of former Macra directors general (DG) Godfrey Itaye and Henry Shamu.

Presenting findings of the investigation into alleged irregularities, nepotism, tribalism, abuse of office and other acts of maladministration in recruitment process of some Macra members of staff by Itaye, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma faulted the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) for meddling in the appointment of Macra DG.

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Other top executives that have suffered the same fate include Digital Migration Technical Adviser Benson Tembo, Director of Economic Affairs Ruth Mgwede Mdala, Director of Internal Audit Fearless Malulu, Director of Postal Services Timothy Sukali, Deputy Director of Computer Emergency Response Team Charles Fodya and Deputy Director of Information Technology (IT) Kumbukani Lisilira.

Others are Deputy Director of Human Resource Henry Macheso, Administration Manager Macdonald Phoya, Market Assessment and Research Manager Emmanuel Banda, Revenue Assurance Manager Dan Datchi and IT Support Manager Tiyamike Zawanda.

Also sent packing are Human Resources Manager Chikumbutso Njolomole and Projects Monitoring Officer Vilanti Tambulasi.

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Among those whose names were cleared by Chizuma are Director of Broadcasting Fergus Lipenga and National Physical Address Manager Limbikani Sekani.

According to Chizuma, Itaye was appointed Director General of Macra in August 2015 from Malawi Postal Corporations where he was post master general.

Chizuma said Itaye’s appointment as Macra boss was illegal as he was hired without being subjected to the open and transparent interview process as required by law under Section 4 of the Public Service Act.

“The appointment was therefore illegal. The illegality of the appointment of Mr Itaye was not only by virtue of lack of interviews but also the fact that his name was proposed by government to the board to recommend back to government for final approval. This is contrary to the spirit of Section 19 of the Communication Act, 1998.

“Going by [the] sequence of events, it is my further finding that Mr Godfrey Itaye[‘s] 2015 appointment as DG of Macra was not only illegal but was also irregular and a mockery to public service recruitment process. The evidence clearly shows that the board was informed of the disapproval of the appointment of Mr Andrew Kumbatira as DG of Macra by the Minister on 10th August 2015,” Chizuma said.

She noted that the investigations revealed that, on the same August 10 2015, the position of Macra DG was declared vacant and that, on the same day, the board was informed that the government was proposing the name of Itaye as DG.

She added that the removal of Itaye as Macra boss and his redeployment to MPC on one hand and that of Shamu from Malawi Postal Corporation (MPC) to Macra was illegal and smacked of maladministration.

Chizuma said, from the Communications Act 2016, it can clearly be seen that neither the OPC nor the Chief Secretary to Cabinet have powers over the recruitment of Macra DG and Post Master General of MPC, adding that the mandate lies in the hands of boards of the two institutions.

She has since directed Macra Board not to pay Itaye his terminal benefits, if any, under the 2016 to 2019 contract, adding that, if such terminal benefits were already paid, the board should claim the same from him.

“Any claim that Mr Itaye may have, in as far as the above two allegations are concerned, cannot lie to Macra but to individual public officers who were solely responsible for his illegal, irregular and suspicious appointments and redeployments.

“No taxpayers’ money belonging to Malawians should be used to settle any such claims,” Chizuma said.

Macra Board Chairperson Stanley Khaila said they would meet Tuesday and Wednesday to start implementing the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

E-Government Principal Secretary Francis Bisika said Capital Hill would make sure that Macra Board implements the recommendations.

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