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Ombudsman studies parastatal replies

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Rafiq Hajat

Office of the Ombudsman is in the process of analysing evidence collected in relation to allegations of mal-administration in public institutions.

The office wrote a number of public institutions, informing them about investigations into alleged cases of unfair treatment of staff, nepotism and abuse of office.

Among other bodies, Office of Ombudsman wrote Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC), Tobacco Commission, Blantyre Water Board (BWB) and Central Medical Stores Trust.

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Spokesperson for the Office of the Ombudsman, Arthur Semba, said the companies responded to the inquiries.

“We are analysing the evidence which the concerned parastatals have been giving us in relation to the allegations made. After that, Office of the Ombudsman will come up with reports and recommendations but I may not give you specific timeframes because you will agree with me that we are looking at many institutions,” he said.

Since the change of administration following the June 23 fresh presidential election, Office of the Ombudsman has been flooded with letters asking it to probe some public institutions.

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In a letter of response from Blantyre Water Board dated October 27, 2020 that The Daily Times has seen, the board denies most of the allegations.

“For your information madam, we wish to inform you that contrary to what is being alleged by the complainant or whistleblower, Blantyre Water Board has four directors, three of which are from Central and Northern regions,” the letter reads.

The letter describes allegations of nepotism, unfair treatment of staff and abuse of office as false.

“As such we would like to bring to your attention that these allegations are based on malice aimed at damaging someone’s reputation. This is coming from one or two disgruntled people who want to settle a score using your office. This can be showed by inconsistencies in the allegations and submitting of a document without facts and evidence,” it adds.

BWB Public Relations Officer Evelyn Khonje referred the paper to the former CEO Dan Chaweza.

“I have been in touch with the Acting CEO. In the absence of office handovers which are yet to be done, we are unable to comment. You may check with Engineer [Dan] Chaweza who was occupying the high office at BWB and is currently on holiday waiting for his departure,” she said.

In a letter to Macra Director General Henry Shamu, inquiring about his conduct when he was Post Master General at MPC, Ombudsman Chizuma demanded to be appraised of all the processes which were followed in recruiting a number of staff.

Among other things, in another letter to CMSTC Chief Executive Officer Feston Kaupa dated November 6, the Ombudsman inquired about recruitment of some of the senior members of staff at the trust.

While the Ombudsman has been writing the letters, boards of various parastatals have also been on the move suspending CEOs in the process.

This is happening at a time President Lazarus Chakwera talks of the need to clear the rubble if the country is to move forward.

Social commentator Rafik Hajat said the revelations of mal-administration in parastatals showed how rotten our society was.

“Now that there is action from the boards of parastatals, Office of the Ombudsman and the presidency, there is hope but the results will depend on how much the pressure you in the media and us in the civil society will put on the authorities,” he said.

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