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Suspended DCs cry torture, unappreciated by OPCSuspended DCs cry torture, unappreciated by OPC

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Three months after the  Office of President and  Cabinet suspended all the country’s District Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers of the assemblies, the officials say their torture is becoming even more grinding as the authorities continue “to play hide and seek on their fate”.

Worked down by frustration and feeling unwanted, some have reportedly started looking for jobs in the private sector where they believe their services can be appreciated.

There is even a court action being mooted by others, it is said.

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In a sweeping action in February this year on  instruction from President Lazarus Chakwera, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi dispatched all the country’s District Commissioners and top executives of the assemblies on interdiction.

This was in reaction to reports of abuse of K6.2  billion Covid-19 funds. Their being suspended took place before a forensic audit had been undertaken  and now despite the conclusion of the audit almost a month ago, government is yet to make a decision on the DCs who were cleared by the audit.

The development has irked some interdicted officers who, in separate interviews with The  Sunday Times, said they are planning to take government to court.

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They argued that the delay by the OPC is emotionally torturing them by keeping their future  uncertain.

“Government is not willing to come up with  a decision about our situation. After the audit the  government arrested our friends who were implicated and we expected that those who were cleared should be told the direction regarding  their employment. But this is not happening and we are just living like neglected animals,” said one of the DCs who opted for anonymity.

Another added that some DCs are currently  applying for jobs in the private sector and other  organisations because they feel they are not wanted by government despite that the audit clearing them.

“The affected DCs will take action against government. We are people who have feelings and  families and to stick theft allegations on us for a long time is psychological torture on us and our families,” said another DC.

Acting Secretary for Local Government Charles  Makanga said his ministry is not aware of what will happen to the DCs who were cleared by the audit report.

Our earlier efforts to talk to Chikhosi proved futile as our phones went unanswered.

Acting Executive Director for Malawi Local  Government Association  (Malga) Hadrod

Mkandawire said the government is breaking  some labour rights for the affected controlling officers.

“We appreciate that the interdicted officers are on full pay. But we cannot keep them blind like that.  What government is doing is wrong considering that reputation for our members is at stake,” he said.

In an interview, Human Rights Defenders Coalition  (HRDC) Chairperson Gift Trapence urged government to quickly come up with a decision on the interdicted officers to demonstrate that the interdiction was done in good faith.

“Up to now they don’t know their fate. We want  their cases to be concluded as soon as possible because justice delayed is justice denied,” Trapence said.

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