It may be seen as a small amount of money but for eight years now, Clement Chirwa continues to pursue his father’s deceased estate package pegged at K184, 680 even though records show that the Accountant General’s Department of Pensions released the money.
Before his death in 2007, Clement’s father, Abraham Chirwa, used to work at Chintheche Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Nkhata Bay as a gardener and he was on government payroll.
Documents in our possession indicate that after Clement’s father’s death in 2007, the Northern Region Education Division Manager wrote the District Commissioner (DC) for Nkhata Bay, seeking their assistance on handling the deceased estate.
A letter signed by one J.C. Mlowoka, on behalf of the Northern Region Education Division Manager, referred the next of kin of the late civil servant to Nkhata Bay District Assembly.
“Please receive herewith PSR 37 forms in respect of [Abraham Chirwa (deceased)] who was our teacher/ officer under District Education Manager Nkhata Bay for completion of Part B Cage I and II.
“You are then requested to send back the forms to this office for other attachments before they are dispatched to Ministry Headquarters for processing,” reads the letter dated May 22, 2007.
Apparently, after all the details of the deceased had been processed, the office of the Accountant General released the K184, 680 using cheque number 301981 and voucher number 2607 on April 30, 2008.
Another document in our possession indicates that the processed cheque was collected on May 13, 2008 but, up to now, Clement has not yet received the money.
An official at the Administrator General’s Mzuzu office, who was handling Clement’s issue, said much as he was aware of the matter, he could not comment because he is not mandated to speak on behalf of the office.
He referred us to another official at the Administrator General’s Blantyre office who said the Assistant Administrator General preferred that we visit the office in person other than conversing on phone.
When he visited our offices on Wednesday, Clement said he has spent a lot of money in his pursuit of justice, but he is still optimistic that he will get his father’s pension.
“I have been to courts, the Ombudsman, the Legal Aid Department and even sought the services of a private lawyer. But I have been tossed around and up to now I haven’t received the money. I suspect some people misappropriated it,” said Clement.
A letter from the Ombudsman’s office in Mzuzu dated April 14, 2011 addressed to the Administrator General, sought the comments of the latter on a complaint raised by Clement that his father’s deceased estate was not being processed.
“We received a written complaint dated 3rd February, 2011 from Mr. [Clement] Chirwa alleging that you are omitting your duty to administer Deceased Estate of late Abraham Chirwa who hailed from Mkundi Village, Traditional Authority Malanda in Nkhata-Bay District,” reads the letter signed by one Charles Banda on behalf the Ombudsman.
But Clement claims that he still never got any help such that he had to engage the courts.
“I went to the Nkhata Bay Magistrate’s Court first before going to Mzuzu Magistrate’s Court in 2013 where the Administrator General was represented. A consensus was reached that I should be given K600, 000 in January 2014 because I had spent a lot in different processes.
“I waited for January 2014 but I never got the money. Then I was granted an order to impound assets at the Administrator General, but it transpired that there were some irregularities,” said Clement.
He added that after seeing that there were still hurdles in his pursuit, he decided to hire the services of a private lawyer.
On Thursday, the private lawyer, who refused to be named, because he has to dig deeper into the case first, said Clement had erred by suing the Accountant General instead of the Attorney General.
The lawyer, who said he was providing his services free of charge, indicated that he would probe the case from the very beginning so that he could understand all the stages that it went through before drafting relevant claims.
“The danger is that this compromises the effective delivery of education as it increases the workload on teachers as well as reduces teacher-student contact time. Large classes are usually unmanageable in terms of assessments and teaching. The resulting effect is poor performance and poor quality education,” he said.
He said school intake should be dependent on its infrastructure and teaching staff capacity.
Kondowe added that over half of the secondary schools in the country have an intake capacity beyond their actual threshold leading to congestion.
“The standards of education will continue to decline and the delivery of the same will soon collapse. Such schools are also a breeding ground for cheating and delinquent behaviours due to limited attention by teachers. Also the transition from secondary school to tertiary institutions become minimal,” said Kondowe.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues