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Ombudsman speaks on office closure

HER OFFICE AFFECTED—Chizuma

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has said the sealing of her offices in Lilongwe has crippled their operations.

The Ombudsman’s offices in Lilongwe (headquarters and Central Region) were sealed Tuesday evening due to non-payment of rentals by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

Chizuma said they found a notice of closure when they were opening on January 6 2020 and the Ministry then only settled rentals for six months but the landlord gave the Ministry few more days to pay the balance but failed to do, prompting the landlord to close the offices on Tuesday at 5.30pm.

She said the development had affected operations of her office.

“In these offices, we have complainants who come on a daily basis to follow up on their cases, to lodge new complaints and others call to check up on their files. All that work cannot be done anywhere else apart from the office,” Chizuma said.

Communications Specialist in the Ministry of Lands, Charles Vintula, said the Ministry has processed the payment through Treasury and all that is required to finalise the payment is for the landlord to provide invoices.

He said all things being equal; the rentals were expected to be paid by yesterday.

“Yes, it is our Ministry that is responsible for all the government offices in terms of accommodation as well as office space. For the Office of the Ombudsman, we processed that payment through Treasury as we do when we are overstretched.

“So on Tuesday, we were about to pay but there was one request from Treasury which was made to the landlord to present some invoices to Treasury and the landlord had not yet done that,” he said.

This is the second time the office has been sealed due to non-payment of rentals.

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