Former Ombudsman Martha Chizuma on Monday delivered a bitter parting shot when she wielded the axe at Tobacco Commission (TC) and Blantyre Water Board (BWB) officials who were recruited without following proper procedures.
The development came barely 21 days after Chizuma fired 16 top executives at Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.
Among other actions at TC, Chizuma nullified the appointment of seven officials, who include former TC deputy chief executive officer (CEO) Levi Phelani.
Other axed officials at TC are former director of human resource (HR) and administration Emily Banda Egolet, Registration and Licencing Supervisor Sheripher Banda, HR Assistant David Jose, Liaison Clerk Atupele Njinga, Information Communication Technology (ICT) Support Officer Atupele Njaka and ICT Systems Support Officer Modester Binga.
On Phelani, Chizuma said his appointment by the former president was contrary to the dictates of the Constitution as read with the Tobacco Industries Act, thus was maladministration.
Chizuma said the position of deputy CEO does not exist in TC hierarchy and is not necessary to the commission.
“Mr Phelani’s contract was nonexistent from start but I cannot make a directive as his contract was already terminated by the current board. Nonetheless, his illegal appointment by the highest office in this country was unfortunate.
“I, therefore, direct the OPC [Office of the President and Cabinet] to refrain from appointing the deputy CEO of the commission and, instead, follow the stipulated procedure for filling a non-established post,” Chizuma said.
Chizuma has also ordered the recall of former TC spokesperson Juliana Chidumu Somba from India, where she was serving at the Malawi High Commission.
According to Chizuma, Chidumu Somba has stayed at the mission beyond the recommended 72 months.
Chizuma said the secondment of Chidumu Somba was irregular as the procedure for the same was not followed.
She, however, said the payment of salaries to Chidumu Somba was proper and in line with Malawi Public Service Regulations.
She, however, said Chidumu Somba continued receiving telephone expenses and medical bills for a period of one year after she had already been seconded to Foreign Service.
“In light of this, I, therefore, direct that the commission should recover from Ms Chidumu Somba the benefits they paid to her in the form of telephone allowances and medical bills after her secondment. This should be recovered by August 31 2021 and my office should be furnished with documentation proving the same.
“Chidumu Somba has stayed in India for more than 72 months as stipulated by the law. As such, I direct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to arrange her repatriation as soon as funds permit,” Chizuma said.
At BWB, Chizuma has cleared Chief Executive Officer Daniel Chiweza on allegations of irregular recruitment but has faulted the then board of the firm for seeking an endorsement from former president Peter Mutharika in the process.
Chizuma has, however, ordered the immediate termination of the contract of BWB Director of Human Resource and Administration Annie Chipaka, saying her recruitment was done by a wrong authority.
BWB has also been faulted for the irregular transfer of former director of finance Henry Bakuwa to Malawi Gaming Board.
The Ombudsman has also directed that former BWB public relations officer Priscilla Mateyu, who was transferred to Kiosk Management, be given back her job.