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Civil servants skipped on payroll

By Jameson Chauluka:

NJOLOMOLE—We receive such reports at our office

Some civil servants are being skipped on the payroll following the decentralisation of salary payment system, The Daily Times has learnt.

In the latest development, 99 primary school teachers in Blantyre City have been omitted from the payroll for September while, earlier in the year, 20 teachers from Thyolo Secondary School were also left out.

Teachers Union of Malawi General Secretary, Charles Kumchenga, Tuesday confirmed that the teachers have reported the matter to his office, adding that the union has given the government up to October 15 to sort out the issue.

He said the union has lodged the teachers’ concerns to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary Justin Saidi and Department of Human Resources.

“The issue concerns teachers who were promoted from PT4 to PT3. After their promotion, they were not moved [redeployed to their new schools] but they were kept within Blantyre Urban and when the government wanted to clean the system, this was the first team to be removed from the payroll as people without established positions.

“It is the problem of the government, the Local Government Ministry in particular as all districts have been decentralised. The policy is punitive to teachers and we are saying innocent teachers should not be punished because of the system,” Kumchenga said.

Blantyre Urban District Education Manager, Evelyn Mjima, referred The Daily Times to the Ministry of Education for a comment on the issue.

Saidi declined to comment on the issue of teachers’ names missing from the payroll, saying salaries are processed at district level.

Civil Servants Trade Union Secretary General, Madalitso Njolomole, has described the development as worrisome and counter-productive.

“We receive such reports at our office. Time and again, we talk to parent ministries and try to resolve their [civil servants’] grievances. It is a worrisome development because we cannot have people working for a whole month and then being skipped on the payroll,” he said.

Njolomole said last month, two civil servants from the ministries of Agriculture and Gender complained to his office after being omitted from payroll but they were eventually put back.

“To reduce cases of ghost workers, civil servants were being asked to present national identity cards and, in some cases, those who delayed were omitted from the payroll,” he said.

In 2016, 21 agriculture extension officers (AEOs) in Mulanje District were skipped between April and June on suspicion that they were ghost workers.

National Audit Office (Nao) however, verified their authenticity and restored their names but they are yet to get their arrears for three months.

One of the affected AEOs said they have been spending money on transport and logistics while chasing the arrears.

“Our landlords, who are farmers, chased us from the houses we were renting because we could not pay. We were reduced to beggars and we have not recovered,” he said.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson, Osborne Tsoka, said he would cross-check with Nao to establish what happened for the concerned AEOs to be skipped on the payroll.

“It is unfortunate that they are in that situation but the ministry will do all it can for these officers to get their money,” he said.

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