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MHRC cautions government on interdiction without pay

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Gospel Kazako

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked the government to tread carefully on the issue of interdiction without pay.

The commission says this in a statement it released on April 29, which came immediately after acting Auditor General Thomas Makiwa told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament that his office did not have funds to conduct audits for the K5.1 billion and K17.5 billion released early last year and early this year, respectively, in response to the Covid-19 threat.

The statement, which MHRC Executive Secretary Habiba Osman has signed, urges the government to adhere to legislation on interdiction.

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Over 60 people have been arrested and some controlling officers interdicted in connection with the alleged mismanagement of K6.2 billion meant for Covid-19 response. The National Audit Office instituted the audit in line with a directive from President Lazarus Chakwera.

However, while welcoming decisions that the government has made in relation to Covid-19 funds abuse, MHRC wants it to follow rules of natural justice.

“In this regard, the government’s move on interdiction without pay has no legal basis as provided for in Section 56(3) and (4) of the Employment Act, and should hence be aborted,” Osman says in the statement.

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But, commenting on the issue, Information Minister Gospel Kazako said the government was exploring all options.

“You can’t pay someone while they are home doing nothing. However, as a government that thrives on compliance to the law, we will explore legal means to make our wish of not paying interdicted public service staff legal. We will ensure that this is done without breaking the law,” Kazako said.

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