President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice- President Saulos Chilima Thursday afternoon stormed offices of the Department of Human Resource Management and Development at Capital Hill in Lilongwe to demand answers on delays in remitting salaries to public servants.
The move has since excited Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) leaders, who have said salary delays negatively affect workers and their family members.
Chakwera has since demanded a “very very well presented report” from Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga-zanga Chikhosi, who is expected to shed light on why there have, of late, been unnecessary delays to pay government workers.
Information Minister Gospel Kazako said no one knew that the President would visit Capital Hill, adding that, when he arrived at the government head offices, he interacted with some civil servants.
He said it was during such interaction that he learned that no civil servant had been paid.
The government spokesperson said there was restlessness at Capital Hill when the President arrived unannounced.
“For a a few months now, civil servants have been receiving salaries very late. A lot has been said. People went into a mode of blame-game and finger-pointing
“That did not pan very well with the President because, as chief executive officer of this country, he needs to make sure that his service is well paid, and paid in time— which was not happening,” Kazako said.
The government spokesperson said the Head of State and Government went to understand reasons for recent inefficiencies in salary payment in the civil service.
He further said it was surprising that the salaries have been coming in “very late”, yet “the money is there, the people are there, the equipment is there, the environment is there, the offices are there”.
Before storming the seat of the government, Chakwera attended the launch of a nutrition campaign at Bingu International Convention Centre, after which he directed his motorcade to take him to Capital Hill.
Chakwera and Chilima, who were elected in the June 23 2020 presidential election, took over the government in July last year. They pledged to make the civil service efficient while on the campaign trail under the Tonse Alliance banner.
Meanwhile, CSTU has lauded the President for the gesture, saying he has indicated that he is as concerned as civil servants themselves.
CSTU General Secretary Mavuto Kaonga said civil servants’ family members also suffer when pay is late.
“It appears that he, too, is not happy with the issue of delayed pay,” Kaonga said.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.