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Jobs on the line at Greenbelt Authority

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After Parliament faulted the authority on how some people were recruited at the institution, Malawi News understands that some managers have already received letters, and that the number of employees on the chopping block is as high as 30.

The Greenbelt Authority (GBA) intends to fire about 30 of its employees on grounds that they were irregularly recruited between the years 2014 and 2020, sources within the institution have confirmed.

This follows a recommendation by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Pac) which earlier this year queried officials of the State-owned irrigation enterprise, after the 2019-2020 audit report from the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted the matter.

The committee also charged the Secretary to the President and Cabinet to regularise the establishments.

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In the report, the GBA was accused of failing to produce advertisements and interview minutes for vacant positions which were filled, thereby leading to an audit query.

Chairperson of the GBA’s Board of Directors Peter Kossam neither denied nor confirmed the development but indicated that Malawi News will be appraised on the matter in a not so-distant future.

“You will be accorded an opportunity to interact with us on the same at an appropriate time so soon. Please keep calm. You are a fourth arm of government hence a need to share you with proper information just for the good of our mother Malawi,” Kossam said in a written response to our questions.

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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the authority Eric Chidzungu said Friday that he was not in a position to comment on the matter.

“Thanks for your inquiry, however talk to the board chair,” he said.

But sources who are privy to the exercise have confirmed to us that it will also affect some directors and senior managers who are said to have been appointed to their positions without merit.

“Two directors will go. Out of the eight managers, five have already received their letters. And we have other senior officers who were deployed to oversee the Greenbelt Initiative at Nchalo in Chikwawa; about three of them,” one of our sources who asked not to be identified, said.

He said the positions will later be advertised and that the affected members of staff who feel have over the years attained appropriate qualifications, skills and experience will be free to apply.

The source also indicated that there will be no terminal benefits for the group, following a number of court precedents and determinations from the office of Ombudsman on matters of unprocedural recruitments.

In her recent ruling over the alleged irregular recruitment of Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the National Oil Company of Malawi Helen Buluma, Ombudsman Grace Malera ordered the board to forfeit payment of any terminal benefits, including gratuity to her, to avoid creating a situation where she benefits from an illegality.

“It is in the view of the board that the 30 employees do not have a legitimate expectation in respect of accrued terminal benefits because as the Ombudsman and courts have opined severally, a person cannot be deemed to have a legitimate expectation over an illegality,” our source said.

Commenting on the matter, chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Gift Trapence hailed the move saying, the board is acting within the law and that the rule of law should be adhered to when it comes to recruitments in public and parastatal institutions.

“We also expect the Tonse Government to do likewise by not using acronyms and nepotism in recruitment but giving all Malawians equal opportunities when it comes to employment,” he said.

Government information indicates that the GBA has a staff complement of 52 but currently has 40 employees with a monthly wage bill of about K23 million.

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