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Soldier demands K1.7 billion for unfair dismissal

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

ADVISED MDF TO NEGOTIATE — Kaphale

The Attorney General and the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) have failed to adhere to The High Court order to pay K1.7 billion to a soldier who was allegedly unfairly dismissed in 2010 while he was sick.

In 2016, the High Court in Mzuzu ordered that the fired soldier, Sergeant Harold Mnokote, be paid all his terminal benefits and dues from to 2010 but MDF has not honoured the order.

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Mnokote, in 2015, complained to the Office of the Ombudsman, who in turn referred the matter to the High Court.

In 2016, the High Court ruled in Mnokote’s favour that he be paid all his terminal benefits but, up to now, MDF is yet to pay him.

According to the judgment dated May 23 2016, Justice John Chirwa directed that MDF should pay Mnokote all his benefits and dues from September 2010 but MDF did not adhere to the order.

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That forced Mnokote to reach the extent of writing Commander-in-Chief of MDF, President Peter Mutharika, on August 30 2017, asking for his intervention on the issue.

Mutharika’s response, dated September 9 2017, scribbled on Mnokote’s letter, just advised the chief secretary to look into the issue and asked him to report progress.

“Please let someone give me a report by 28th September 2017,” reads part of Mutharika’s response.

In a letter of claim that Malawi News has seen, the former MDF soldier is demanding for payment of terminal benefits based on the judgment on a case identified as Civil Cause No 34 of 2015.

The claim includes basic pay, housing allowances, trade pay, half ration, marriage payee basic pay, notice pay, leave grant, repatriation, troop, field, subsistence allowance, legal costs, compensation, damages for unfair labour practices due to the applicant from September 2010 to June 2019.

The long wait forced Mnlokote to write MDF and Attorney General a letter warning that he would take unspecified action if he is not paid within seven days.

“I demand all my terminal benefits and dues which amount to K1,777,607,031.12 (One Billion Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven Million Six hundred and Seven Thousand and Thirty-one Kwacha Twelve Tambala), and this should be made within seven working days from the day this letter will be issued. This is a final notice and, therefore, note that if you fail to pay within the stipulated time limit, I will take necessary measures and action in order to get my money accordingly,” reads part Mnokote’s letter dated June 4 2019

Mnokote wants MDF to pay all his dues from the period of July 2019 to 2039 when he was expected to retire.

The issue started when AG was Charles Mhango.

AG Kalekeni Kaphale, in a letter dated June 6 2018, advised MDF to negotiate with Mnokote to reduce the claim.

“This is to authorise your office to attempt to negotiate with the claimant to try to reduce the claim to reasonablerevel,” Kaphale said.

MDF spokesperson Paul Chiphwanya and Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani were yet to comment on the matter.

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