The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) is embroiled in labour malpractice in which it is refusing to comply with the determination by the Ombudsman to duly retire a former soldier Corporal Jack Mande but instead has chosen to pay him K130, 000 as a package despite the fact that Mande had worked for 11 years with MDF, Nyasa Times can reveal.
Mande, who was based at Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu and was employed in 1996 as a Private Soldier, lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman alleging that the MDF treated him unfairly.
He also claimed that he was forced to resign under duress while he was still serving soldier which did not go down well with the MDF who regarded him as having committed an act of misconduct by complaining to the Ombudsman instead of his MDF senior officers.
According to evidence that was tendered to the public protector (Ombudsman), it is said that Mande after serving MDF for 10 years with colleagues with similar number of years applied for retirement but to his dismay his colleagues applications were granted despite his not being successful.
However, MDF spokesperson Captain Paul Chiphwanya said since Mande only served for 11 years he was not due for retirement since he did not serve the required 15 years as stipulated in the MDF Act.
“I think what he got was three months pay because currently we are using the new MDF Act Chapter 12:01 of 2004,” said Chiphwanya.
Mande further gave testimony that he reacted to this by lodging a complaint to the office of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman in return wrote the Army Commander and the Commanding Officer for Moyale Barracks soliciting their views on his complaint. This did not go down well with MDF hierarchy who felt that Mande had committed an act of misconduct.
“He was consequently put in a guardroom on 3rd September 2007 where he was made to lift tyres on top of being splashed with water. His ordeal did not end there, he was later approached by S/Sgt Matupi who told him that the Commanding Officer Namisika had issued instructions requiring Mande to write a resignation letter. It is further said Mande obliged due to what he described as ‘pain and unfair treatment,” reads records of the matter from the Ombudsman.
When the resignation letter was brought before the Commanding Officer he was told to rewrite the same as he had not written it properly which he obliged and he was sent back to the guardroom cell.
“I was taken to Commanding Officer in connection with the complaint I made to the Ombudsman. I was detained for 20 days. I disown the resignation of 25th October, 2007 stressing that the only resignation letter was the one I wrote on 3rd September, 2007. Resigning was not my intention instead I wanted to retire. I didn’t know that the Army Act had been replaced with the MDF Act,” Mande said during cross examination.
Mande’s first complaint he lodged with the Ombudsman, stated that he did the same as he felt that the conduct of MDF in refusing to grant his application to retire bordered on discrimination others like him were considered.
“In regards to my retirement it is not true that I did not qualify to retire and I reiterate that I did not write a resignation letter. I am surprised at being subjected to disciplinary proceedings for complaining to the Ombudsman, a constitutional body. In November I was told the approval for my retirement but was not given any letter to that effect,’ said Mande.
Therefore the Ombudsman Tujilane Chizumila ruled that MDF’s conduct towards Mande constituted maladministration and that the soldier had the mandate to resolve the matter administratively.
“Pursuant to Sections 126 (a) of the Constitution and 8 (1) (b) (2) of the Ombudsman Act I direct that Mande should with immediate effect deem to have retired at the prescribed period of retirement and pay all dues accruing to him,” ruled Chizumila.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :