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Shake-up at State House

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State House has been forced to a panic vetting of staff with some people being transferred and others redeployed in what is believed to be a “clean-up” exercise of people connected to opposition political parties.

The most prominent is the removal of Lawford Palani, who was deputy director of state residences, who has been redeployed to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development while some officers in his office have been sent on leave. Some security officers have been redeployed mostly to rural police units for being perceived to be agents of opposition parties.

What has brought this impromptu vetting exercise, according to well-placed sources, is the death of Madalitso Mazombwe, who was working as secretary to state residences deputy director.

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The late Mazombwe, is said to have been a relative of Rachel Mazombwe-Zulu, who once served as minister in former president Joyce Banda’s cabinet.

The sources said authorities discovered that Mazombwe had links with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as the party took a leading role during her funeral on January 3 2017 in Lilongwe. The development is said to have forced State House to start looking at the profiles of staff members and all those believed to have connection with other parties facing transfers and redeployments.

Those sent on forced leave include Secretary to State Residences Director Chifundo Ching’oma Mwale, Director of Procurement, known as a Mr. Makalande, and a messenger known as Masebo.

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In an interview yesterday, Palani said he was aware that State House Spokesperson was the right person to respond to the issues but said he was forced to comment because of what has been said before.

He confirmed his redeployment to his previous ministry after working at State House for three years. He also justified the vetting at State House, saying it is a normal process that helps the State House to know the truth about its staff.

“State House has to vet its people just to make sure they know the truth about the people they have,” he said.

“I have not been fired as others are indicating. It has pleased the authorities to redeploy me to Local Government Ministry where I was before. This is the truth. I am leaving State House a happy man. I worked with my boss Mr. [Peter]Mukhito without any problems and the President took care of me throughout. I am from the Central Region. I am leaving not because I am from Central Region. It is just time. Civil servants are not politicians,” said Palani.

On her part, Mwale said she did not have a letter to that effect but was just reading on WhatsApp chat about her forced leave. Masebo, who said was at his village, said he did not know anything.

But our sources insisted that apart from Palani, the others could not confirm because “they are juniors and are afraid. But forced leave from here results in end of employment.”

The cleaning exercise has also affected security officers who served at the State House during the Joyce Banda administration according to our sources.

On January 6, 2017, several officers were moved from State House to some remote police units according to communication from Police Deputy Director of Human Resource Management Senior Superintendent A.B. Moyo dated January 6, 2017.

These include Moses Mangazi from Kamuzu Palace to Madisi Police Unit; Kenneth Mangwaya from Kamuzu Palace to Namitete Police Post; Ben Kasambala also from Kamuzu Palace to Liwalazi Police Unit; Fraction Matipwiri from Sanjika Place to Chiringa Police Unit; Bob Winiko from Sanjika Palace to Chambe Police Unit; Mphatso Soko from Sanjika to Nkhulambe Police Unit; Posiano Limbikani from Kamuzu Place to Chiradzulu Station to general duties; Rooney Mwangati from Kamuzu Palace to Chapananga Police Unit; Francis Zingunde from Kamuzu Palace to Ligowe Unit in Neno and Dustun Bulian from Kamuzu Palace to Chiromo Police Post in Nsanje.

The list has very few postings not from State House.

Asked to comment on the forced leave for the three officers and the redeployment of the security officers and that Mazombwe’s death has opened a can of worms, State House Director General Peter Mukhito said: “To suggest that her death has opened a can of worms is not true.

He added: “Postings in government are normal. State House is for the President and the First Lady. People are not there permanently. We shall all leave one day. And for those officers you mentioned [in my office], they signed leave forms. So they applied for leave.”

And on whether the officers are redeployed because of their perceived connections to the opposition, he said: “There is no connection. But you know when something happens, people make connections. The accident happened on January 1 and she was buried a day or two later.”

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