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Ombudsman probes EDF top job recruitment

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Joyce Chitsulo

The Office of the Ombudsman says it is almost done with its probe into the recruitment of the Managing Director of Export Development Fund (EDF).

EDF is a national development finance institution set up by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) in collaboration with government to support the growth and diversification of the country’s exports.

Ombudsman Grace Malera confirmed to Malawi News that they decided to act on the matter following concern from a number of citizens.

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“We constituted an investigation and inquiry on the same, which we have completed and we will soon be releasing our findings and determination,” Malera said.

According to a letter we have seen from the concerned citizens to the Ombudsman, copied to the chairperson of Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee, Secretary to the President and Cabinet and Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor, they accuse the board of directors at EDF over an advert that was run in January for ‘deliberately misrepresenting job requirements’.

They alleged that the experience and core competencies requirement for entry for the job as captured in the said advert ‘is not only strange and suspicious but it is also materially distorted when compared to the one floated by EDF in the local daily newspaper of February 2017’.

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“The current advert has been deliberately misrepresented by stating that the experience and core competencies required for the entry of the job is combined work experience of at least ten years only instead of minimum of ten years of work experience as director/ head of department which is in line with human resources policy of EDF and the RBM group,” reads part of the complaint.

It goes further to accuse the EDF board of deliberate misrepresentation of facts, allegedly ‘in order to facilitate another fraudulent and unprocedural recruitment of the Executive’.

When contacted, EDF Board Chairman Neil Nyirongo confirmed that he was aware of the matter and that it is at the Ombudsman’s office.

“I am aware of the letter and the matter is in the hands of the office of the Ombudsman,” Nyirongo said.

Reserve Bank of Malawi spokesperson Ralph Tseka also confirmed the development.

“The issue is being handled by Ombudsman,” Tseka said

The newspaper advert was floated by EDF following the resignation of Gerald Nsomba, whose recruitment is also being investigated by the office of the Ombudsman.

Chairperson of Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee Joyce Chitsulo acknowledged that her committee also received the complaint and that it is expected to summon the EDF board.

“It is unfortunate that this is happening at the time [when] we have not resolved the issue of recruitment of the former Managing Director who has resigned, I feel the board is supposed to be doing right things not to repeat the same mistakes,” Chitsulo said.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence said the alleged unprocedural and irregular recruitment is a sign that authorities do not want to change when it comes to recruiting top officials in government departments.

“We call upon the Ombudsman’s office to take a proactive approach by widening the net and probe into the recruitment,” Trapence said.

Parliament has also been taking to task RBM over its failure for close to nine years to licence EDF, which is the central bank’s subsidiary.

EDF is a development finance institution registered in Malawi under the Companies Act (1984) and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RBM.

It was established as a Special Purpose Vehicle with the mandate of promoting the growth of exports as a way of assisting in the realisation of national development goals of growing and diversifying the country’s exports.

EDF is also a key institution for the implementation of the National Export Strategy (Nes), specifically diversifying Malawi’s export base by focusing on non-traditional exports, increasing export revenue earnings into the country and bolstering international reserves through increased flows of foreign direct investments into export sectors.

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