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Mera frowns at Henry Kachaje report

Claims Ombudsman is conflicted in matter

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Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) Board has indicated that Ombudsman Grace Malera, who is expected to release an investigative report into how its chief executive officer (CEO) Henry Kachaje was appointed, is conflicted because she applied for the job but was not shortlisted.

Malera is today expected to announce results of findings of investigations into allegations that the Mera Board irregularly appointed the energy regulator’s CEO Kachaje, who was reported to the office of the Ombudsman by some concerned parties.

In August this year, the Mera Board appointed the former Economics Association of Malawi president as CEO, replacing Collins Magalasi, who, ironically, was fired following the Ombudsman’s determination of illegal appointment

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A press release from the office of the Ombudsman reads: “Take note that the Ombudsman Honourable Grace Tiyambenji Malera will on Wednesday, November 10 2021, release a report on the determination on ‘An Investigation in the Matter of The Alleged Unprocedural and Irregular Recruitment of the Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority, Mr Henry Kachaje.”

A letter, which Malera addresses to the Mera’s Board, reads: “Be advised that your attendance or that of your representative will be required.”

However, the Mera Board of Directors has expressed discomfort at the scheduled release of the Ombudsman’s report.

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Mera Vice Chairperson Innocencia Chirombo told The Daily Times yesterday night that Malera was an interested party in the matter as she applied for the Mera CEO job but was not shortlisted.

According to Chirombo, Malera is, therefore, not better placed to give an impartial verdict on the matter.

“We, as a board, are not happy because the Ombudsman is an interested party. Before she became Ombudsman, she applied for the Mera CEO job but she was not shortlisted,” Chirombo said.

Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo, whose committee is also investigating the issue, told The Daily Times that the Ombudsman had stopped her committee from further investigating the issue of Kachaje’s appointment on the basis that her office was also investigating the same.

“She asked us to pend our investigations and wait for her report. I reported to the full committee and some members were of the opinion that the committee could proceed with the investigations.

“On Monday, we invited the Mera Board and that is when we were told of the conflict of interest as the Ombudsman was said to have applied for the same job and was not shortlisted for the interviews.

In March, the then Ombudsman Martha Chizuma made a determination on the recruitment of former Mera CEO Magalasi, saying it was “illegal, unprocedural” and smacked of “maladministration.”

When we tried to contact Malera for her side of the story yester-night, her phone went unanswered.

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