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Confusion over promotions at Immigration Department

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One of the letters

There is confusion among staff at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services over promotion of officers.

This follows government’s notice of intention to promote over 400 officers who had already been “promoted” in May 2020 by the Peter Mutharika-led administration.

According to communication that we have seen between the Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) and the Ministry of Homeland Security, 459 officers, who include commissioners and 301 constables, have been recommended for promotion.

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However, a source from Immigration, who opted for anonymity, said the recommendations for the new promotions are confusing in that the Department does not have Constables following the May 2020 promotions which moved all Constables to the rank of Sergeants.

Our investigation shows however that the said officers were not given their appointment letters nor adjustment of perks when the said May 2020 promotions were announced.

The officers were only accorded attires and badges and not the pay to match with it.

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Another source from the institution corroborated our findings, saying indeed government did not effect salary changes during that time, which he said was quite irregular.

“Promotions at the Department of Immigration go through the Secretary of Human Resource but these [May 2020] promotions were politically motivated. There was no merit or proper procedure followed. That is why the new government did not, in a way, recognise those promotions,” said the source.

A month before the sanctioned fresh presidential elections, the then government promoted all constables to the rank of sergeant, and all sergeants were moved to the rank of Sub Inspector at the Department of Immigration – in a promotion galore that also benefitted thousands in the Malawi Police Service and Department of Prisons Service.

A letter we have seen dated May 13, 2020 captures former Chief Immigration Officer Masauko Medi effecting the “promotions” that time with immediate effect.

“The Director General congratulate all constables and sergeants for being promoted from the post of constable (MII) to sergeant (grade K) and from sergeant grade (MI) to Sub Inspector (grade J) respectively, with effect from 12th May 2020,” reads part of the memo.

Meanwhile, a communication from the Director General of Immigration and Citizenships Services to all heads of sections dated 17 August, 2021 titled: ‘An update on promotions’ states that the Secretary for the Human Resource Management and Development authorised the Immigration Department to fill existing vacant posts.

“Following this, the Department made a submission to the Ministry recommending all eligible officers to compete for the vacant posts, from Sergeant (Grade K) to Senior Superintendent (Grade F), in an interview. The decision was made to ensure fairness as there are few vacant posts compared to eligible officers to be considered for promotions.

“Please take note that due to the suspension of waivers, the Civil Service Commission will consider number of years served on the current post and minimum entry qualification for a particular post. Dates for the interviews will be set by the Civil Service Commission,” reads part of the letter.

Another letter in our possession also dated 17 August, 2021 shows that the Secretary for Human Resource Management and Development approved promotions of 459 people.

Chief Immigration Officer Hannings Mlotha referred us to the department’s Public Relations Officer.

When contacted, national spokesperson for the department, Wellington Chiponde could not comment immediately.

Contacted later, he said he was still waiting for a response from his principals.

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