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Government favours James Seyani

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Government has back-peddled on its decision to retire Professor James Seyani from his position of Director General of the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens (NHBG) despite reaching retirement age nine years ago, a decision that smacks of dishonesty on the part of government.

This is in sharp contrast to what happens to many people in public service. Last month, government sent the then Inspector General of Police, Lexten Kachama, on an administrative leave three months before his 60th birthday.

Seyani, a former Chairperson of the Mulhako wa Lhomwe tribal group, was due to retire from NHBG in 2009, after being at the helm of the institution since its birth in 1989.

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In a letter that we have reviewed, the then Comptroller of Statutory Corporations, Nwazi Mnthambala, reminded Seyani that he had reached retirement age on October 24 2009.

“In accordance with the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens (NHBG) terms and conditions of service article 13 sub- Section 1, you should have retired on 24th October, 2009,” reads the letter dated August 1, 2012.

Government then appointed Dr. Zacharia Magombo to act as the Director General of NHBG in November the same year.

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But Seyani still remained in an institutional house and never surrendered his office.

Government reappointed him as Director General of NHBG effective April 1 2017. But it advised the NHBG board of directors to work out conditions of his contract.

However, Seyani moved back into his office on September 1 2017 before the board worked on his contract.

Sources say, Seyani has been working without a contract but draws benefits. It is not known which contract Seyani bases his benefits on.

Sources privy to the issue said Seyani wants to be paid based on University of Malawi (Unima) salary scale which is way above NHBG’s structure. Seyani was seconded to NHBG from Unima and received a salary befitting a Unima professor.

In a letter written by Stuart Ligomeka, the Comptroller of Statutory Corporations, government approved that Seyani should resume his position as Director General for a period of three years.

Seyani declined to comment when we asked him about his reappointment.

Ligomeka asked for a questionnaire. He later said he could only respond next week as he was preparing to fly out.

NHBG Board Chairperson Professor James Bokosi declined to comment on the anomaly saying he is not an appointing authority.

“I am just the Board Chairperson of the institution. I am not the appointing authority,” he said.

On Friday last week, the board met and among other issues, Seyani’s reappointment was discussed.

According to some members, who asked for anonymity, the board failed to settle the issue because other members felt that Seyani was being unduly favoured.

 

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