The Ministry of Local Government has directed the suspension of three senior officers at M’mbelwa District Council (MDC) over negligence, incompetence and failure to submit quarterly reports.
The three got the whip on Friday after Ministry of Local Government Principal Secretary (PS) Charles Kalemba held a meeting with members of the council’s secretariat and councillors.
Kalemba, who confirmed the development yesterday, was accompanied by officials from Local Government Service Commission and National Council Finance Committee officials.
He said one official was being accused of negligence to execute duties as well as abating continued embezzlement of funds at the council
The second official is alleged to have failed to produce financial reports, apart from being accused of inefficiency and incompetence.
Another official is being accused of mismanaging funds.
“The reason is that he has not been able to produce financial reports for over a year now and every time he is asked to produce the reports, it’s either he runs away or finds an excuse.
“So, when we investigated the issue, we noted that there is inefficiency and incompetence and, as such, advised the council that, using provisions and regulations, all they need to do is to suspend and take him through the disciplinary process,” Kalemba said.
He said they were also informed by some members of three committees of the council— finance, human resource and development— that revenues were being misappropriated at Ekwendeni and Jenda markets.
“They went and investigated the issue and confirmed. We also sent our internal auditors to investigate the issue and they found that resources were being embezzled at the two markets. The advice was to suspend two officers who were directly implicated but they were not suspended, a move that was seen as negligence and also abating continueds embezzlement of funda at the council,” he said.
MDC Chairperson Councillor Yolanda Ngwira separately confirmed the development, saying they were happy that the ministry had taken such a step.
“This will serve as a lesson; things have not been well at the council and nothing was being done. It was like business as usual, everyone doing what he wanted to do. So we believe that, with this development, people will be scared now.
“As chairperson, I heard councillors complaining and I took the matter to the DC but, because there were delays, I took the matter to the PS and I invited him and he came for a meeting on Friday, when he made the directions,” she said.
In August, Kalemba said the space for non-performance, corruption and fraud was narrowing in councils.
He said this in Blantyre, where National Local Government Finance Committee trained district commissioners, directors of finance and district liaison officers in development project management.
“From now onwards, the system of transferring officials who mismanaged funds in councils from one district to another is over. The Ministry of Local Government will engage stakeholders such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Malawi Police Service, and disciplinary as well as criminal action will be taken against those suspected of engaging in wrong-doing,” Kalemba said.