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Health official accused of abuse of office

Some government health officials continue to abuse public resources as Malawi’s economy is yet to heal from the massive plunder of government resources popularly known as Cashgate.

The Daily Times has established that some officers including Principal Health Services Administrator at Nkhata Bay District Hospital, John Phiri commute to work from Mzuzu despite government constructing modern staff houses at the new medical facility.

This reporter has gathered that Phiri draws fuel worth K100,000 per week from the Other Recurrent Transactions’ (ORT) purse.

This has in turn stifled service delivery in some departments since he also uses government vehicles and drivers to ferry him.

For instance, in the past week, a Toyota Land Cruiser Registration Number NA 584 tasked for the outreach programmes in the ongoing Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) severally delayed for the exercise because it was out to Mzuzu to pick Phiri.

“It is not just about the money but time and the human resource wasted on him instead of serving the hundreds of Malawians in Nkhata Bay in various faculties of health. He has been doing that for the past four years but everyone is afraid to confront him,” said a source in the transport department who opted for anonymity.

Adding: “He is also feared by the management and yet he continues to frustrate and inconvenience a number of programmes meant to benefit the poor. He is selfish.”

Phiri said in an interview on Wednesday that he does it intermittently.

“I take advantage of the vehicles coming to Mzuzu for instance to collect blood samples or to do other business at the central hospital. Whoever says the government vehicle comes every day solely for me is simply distorting facts,” said Phiri, who is consuming an average of 100 litres of fuel in a week.

He, however, admitted that he has been commuting to work for some years except for a year and a half ago when he went overseas to further his education.

But Phiri disclosed that there are several other officers doing the same but no one is pointing fingers at them.

“In fact, the employer is yet to sort out our accommodation problem because when I returned from my studies, somebody occupied the house meant for me since we have similar entitlements,” said Phiri, who was quick to admit that he has not pushed for his relocation due to family commitments.

However, The Daily Times is informed that the new hospital has an unoccupied senior quarters befitting Phiri’s designation.

Asked on why the District Health Office is letting Phiri get away with such abuse of office, Nkhata Bay Hospital spokesperson Christopher Singini said: “Give me time to investigate but as an office, we usually have trips to Mzuzu and members usually are allowed to jump in the vehicles.”

This comes at a time when Nkhata Bay District Hospital is running on a deficit of about K20 million per month.

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