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Malawi Electoral Commission in dark spot again

The embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) continues to hog the limelight, this time with a United Nations Development Programme funded review querying how the elections body recruited 51 employees between February 2014 and 2015.

The review report also puts question marks on Mec’s general recruitment and selection policy which it says does not comply with established procedures that apply to the public service.

The reservations are contained in a ‘MEC Review of Organisational Structure and Staffing Final Draft Report’ by a consultant Gregg Bekko.

The report was funded by United Nations Development Programme.

“It is recommended that a human resources audit be carried out to establish how new 51 employees were hired by Mec between February 2014 and February 2015. This is a significant increase in Mec wage bill. The audit should establish whether the vacancies are reflected in the Mec workforce warrant approved by Mec Commissioners for the period in question,” reads the report dated March 2015.

The report also says there are serious flaws in the recruitment process at Mec.

“Mec should recruit staff against approved workforce establishment warrant. All jobs should be advertised both internally and externally and must be subjected to a competitive selection process with the full participation of the relevant director and manager,” reads the report.

According to the document, the recruitment process at Mec is messy.

In its recruitment, the review found, the commission does not make use of job related tests and structured interviews and rating forms that include scores and narrative statements justifying each score.

The report also faults the commission for not obtaining referees from previous employers and not conducting background checks regarding applicants’ qualifications, credentials and criminal record.

“It is also recommended to rationalise the number of support jobs such as drivers, messengers, cleaners labourers, and gardeners by outsourcing these services or retaining an optimum level. In the meantime, the four security guards in permanent employment should be redeployed as warehouse assistants (labourers) since Mec has already outsourced this job to an external security provider,” the report says.

However, Mec has defended itself over the flaws.

Spokesperson for the Commission Sangwani Mwafulirwa said in an interview that “the positions for which we recruited the people existed in the Mec Staff Establishment and the recruitments were approved by the Commission. They were also budgeted for and that’s why they are receiving salaries.”

He said the majority of the positions were filled in the run up to the tripartite elections in order to enhance the Commission’s capacity to handle the elections.

He also said Mec is a constitutional independent body that is not part of the public service as in the Public Service Act.

“If you look at that the Commission is empowered by law to recruit such persons it wants and in a manner it deems fit. That said most of the new positions that were filled were done through interviews and with the approval of the Commission.

“Lastly we have a draft recruitment policy which we will shortly be presenting to the Commission for approval,” said Mwafulirwa.

The Commission has been making headlines recently over alleged abuse of funds.

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