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Commissioners drawing double pay

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Commissioners at the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and those at the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) are being paid hefty salaries despite being employed in other public bodies, The Daily Times has established.

For instance, Mec chairperson currently gets K917 000 honoraria per month despite getting full benefits and a salary as a judge, while commissioners at MHRC receive over K400,000 for those on part-time while those on full-time receive over K800,000 honoraria and monthly salary, respectively.

The revelation has not gone down well with consumer activist John Kapito who has described the allowances as unjustified.

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“There’s no any emergency substantive issue they handle for them to be able to receive that type of money. In the Electoral Commission, we don’t have any commissioner who is a full-time employee deserving a car, airtime, fuel and absorbing huge sums of money per month,” Kapito said.

He added that in a bleeding economy such as Malawi’s, it does not make any sense to pay fat salaries or honoraria to people who are contributing nothing to the development of the nation.

“So, we are refusing to pay our doctors, teachers and we want to pay a lot of money to people who are doing nothing and contributing nothing. People who can only do a job only when they are invited to do so. What we need is to go back and change the Electoral Commissions Act,” he said.

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Kapito, who was once a board chairperson of MHRC, said the Law Commissioner and Ombudsman among others get K400, 000 honoraria, and the sum he alleges is better than the salary of a doctor.

He, therefore, argued that the donors are doing the right thing by not to helping the country with financial resources because of it is failure to use its resources in the right way.

He said instead of paying the commissioners sitting allowances, they get away with more than an amount they receive from their work place.

On Monday, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula confirmed that Justice Maxon Mbendera is still a Supreme Court of Appeal Judge and was getting full benefits including a salary despite getting the K917, 000 honoraria from Mec.

Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Nations Msowoya agreed that commissioners receive hefty salaries or honoraria per month.

However, he said Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) was responsible for the working conditions of the commissioners and it was better placed to comment.

Secretary to OPC George Mkondiwa said common sense was supposed to work to the commissioners that are pushing for the pay hike.

“Yes they are entitled to receive those perks, but whatever we request needs to make sense in the eyes of Malawians…it is not now that donors will start giving us the 40 percent needed to our budget. We need to support ourselves with whatever is there on the domestic scene,” said Mkondiwa.

He concurred with Kapito for the need to amend some of the terms in the working conditions for the commissioners saying Malawians need to share the cake equally.

“But if you are asking about judiciary, I am in a better position to explain. But I cannot be disclosing his [Mbendera’s] entitlements… that is a legal document,” Mlenga explained.

Mec Media and Public Relations Officer, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, did not pick our phone calls on several occasions on Monday.

However, Mwafulirwa was quoted in the Weekend Nation saying that all the commissioners were on full time employment at Mec.

“You may wish to note that with the cycle approach to elections management, there is no idle time, the commissioners are always busy with the commission work. All the commissioners are on full time employment with the commission except that they do not go to the office every morning …”said Mwafulirwa.

While MHRC Executive Secretary Grace Malera said she was not responding to any phone calls but only text messages but she did not respond to our text messages sent in the afternoon.

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