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Ombudsman faults Peter Mutharika for hiring Collins Magalasi at Mera

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Collins Magalasi

The Office of the Ombudsman has found former president Peter Mutharika in the wrong after hijacking the planned procedural recruitment of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) Chief Executive Officer, by appointing Collins Magalasi in 2017.

The Ombudsman says Magalasi was appointed without the job being advertised to allow willing and eligible applicants to compete for the post, which is contrary to the provisions of the Energy Regulation Act.

“The appointment of Dr. Magalasi by the State President is contrary to the dictates of the Constitution, as read with the Energy Regulation Act. It was maladministration,” Ombudman Martha Chizuma said in a report unveiled yesterday in Lilongwe.

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The report, titled “Institutional Anarchy” further faults former Mera board members for their endorsement of recruitment of other officers at the energy regulatory body.

Chizuma has since ordered Mera to declare Magalasi’s recruitment a nullity and should not pay any end of contract benefits and that if such payments were already made to him, they should be reclaimed.

“With this, the appointment would have been nullified if he still held the position now,’’ she said, while observing that Magalasi’s contract had expired.

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Chizuma has directed the Office of the President and Cabinet to refrain from appointing the CEO of Mera and instead follow the law to the letter and allow the Board to make the appointment.

The report has also faulted Magalasi for facilitating recruitment of Godfrey Chilenga, a relation to Democratic Progressive Party member Werani Chilenga.

But Chizuma emphasized that Chilenga did not get the position based on his relationship with Chilenga but on the botched recruitment process.

She said her investigations revealed that it was Pachalo Mwanza who got more percentage during interviews than Chilenga but the job was not offered to Mwanza because Magalasi alleged that he had received an anonymous email from “unknown@facebook.com” warning Mera not to offer Mwanza the job, saying “Ali ndi zigoba” and may be leaking Mera’s information.

According Chizuma, Magalasi contradicted himself during the hearing when he told her office that said he received an email from unknown person and that there was no response when he emailed back and that he later said he never got any email but it was a letter delivered at Mera’s entry gate.

Chizuma has meanwhile directed Mera to seek references from Mwanza’s former or current employer and offer him the job if Mera deems it so and if not, then Chilenga can be maintained.

The Ombudsman has however cleared Alinafe Nkaveya, who is Director of Liquid and Gas at Mera, saying her promotion was legal.

A representative of Mera board Chairperson, Phillis Manguluti, has said the new board members will look into the report and report back to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“We have received the report. As a board, we were appointed and we started our operations in December 2020 and one thing we noted was that there was that issue in the hands of the Ombudsman. So, we were waiting for the report and now that the report is out, we will go through it before giving back our feedback,” Manguluti said.

The Ombudsman had received a complaint on September 9, 2020 alleging irregular, nepotistic, discriminatory and fraudulent recruitment of CEO of Mera and some other staff at the Authority.

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