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Dubious recruitment queries flood Ombudsman

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GIFT TRAPENCE

The office of the Ombudsman received complaints from 27 government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of suspected irregular recruitment of about 500 individuals between April 2020 and March 2021.

Ombudsman Grace Malera told The Daily Times that complaints bordering on unprocedural recruitment in MDAs continue to dominate cases reported to her office, saying the reporting period between March 2021 and April 2022 may not be different.

She said on Friday that there is an administrative departure from fair interview processes by public offices and officers, leading to infringement of rights of others in the process.

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Citing a report her office got against the Malawi Police Service (MPS) regarding the recent recruitment process of the 2021-22 cohort of recruit constables (Grade N), Malera said most of the complaints have merit.

“Of late, issues of unprocedural recruitments have tended to predominate matters that come to our office. As we are speaking, we have got a lot of complaints from councils regarding ongoing recruitments.

“It is a good sign, however, because it means that citizens are more aware [of processes] and want to engage with accountability institutions so that their rights are respected,” Malera said.

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On the issue of recruitment in MPS, the Ombudsman said, after receiving a complaint from an individual who was left out, they issued a notice of investigation to the Inspector General (IG) of Police, which he is supposed to respond to by the end of this month

“The complaint underwent our internal screening process and we found that it had merit warranting investigations,” she said.

A recently released Auditor General’s report for the year 2019 ending on June 30 2020 also raised queries of irregular recruitments in some government institutions like the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).

The report states that the authority filled the post of Internal Audit and Risk Manager through external recruitment and yet the vacancy was not advertised.

“…but an inspection of the documentation on the recruitment process of the newly recruited staff for the period between July 2019 and June 2020 revealed that the post of internal Audit manager was filled through external recruitment but without advertising the vacancy,” the audit report reads.

A case document we have seen from the office of the Ombudsman has complaints against institutions such as the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, which was reported over the recruitment of officers for Power Market Limited; Local Government Service Commission, where people are questioning the hiring of over 170 people; National Roads Authority, where, apart from the Chief Executive Officer, someone reported the hiring of 13 other employees; Parliament of Malawi; Malawi Housing Corporation and district councils.

Apart from these, there about the hiring of the Director of E-Government, among others. is an anonymous complaint

Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence has said the anomalies smack of a broken system that does not adhere to tenets of professionalism.

He warned that if the public reforms agenda is not adhered to, such things will continue happening.

“The much touted public reforms agenda could have resolved most of the critical issues that MDAs are facing. If public reforms are not implemented, such issues will be recurring and Malawians will not see MDAs performing to expectation. We also need accountability on the part of controlling officers who are involved in dubious recruitment. The law should take its course,” Trapence said.

The Office of the Ombudsman is a Public body established under the Malawi Constitution to investigate any case where it is alleged that a person has suffered injustice at the hands of a public officer or office.

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