Nearly three weeks after government interdicted district commissioners (DCs) and city, municipal and town council chief executive officers (CEOs) over alleged abuse of Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic funds, officials acting in those positions are still operating without “official appointment letters” from government, Nyasa Times has learnt.
The situation has already raised fears among some quarters that the decisions being made by the acting controlling officers may be “undermined” in the “absence of official communication”.
Both Ministry of Local Government and Malawi Local Government Association (Malga), have confirmed the absence of official appointment letters for the acting officials.
But while Malga claims to have written the Ministry of Local Government to express its concerns over the “anomaly”, the ministry, on the other hand, says it is “handling the matter proceedurally”.
In separate interviews with Nyasa Times, chairperson for Rumphi district council Harry Mnyenyembe and Nkhotakota’s Sam Chunga, confirmed that their acting DCs have no official appointment letters.
The two said the interdicted DCs were “just ordered” to “choose” their “favourite or preferred” official or any “highest ranking” official within the councils to act in their positions.
They added that the acting officials were told to wait for their official appointment letters that would “come soon”.
But when contacted for his comment, Malga acting executive director, Hadrod Zeru Mkandawire, criticized this arrangement, saying it will create “unnecessary chaos” in the councils.
“Having noted this anomaly, we wrote to the Ministry of Local Government to express our deep regret and concern that the absence of official communication to the appointees to act as controlling officers may create unnecessarily leadership vacuum in the local governments,” said Mkandawire.
He added: “Much as we are informed that there are acting controlling officers in the councils, the ministry would agree with us that official communication from the appointing authority to the appointees is a necessary process. Further, we are afraid that decisions being made by the acting controlling officers may be undermined in the absence of official communication, which may bring unnecessary chaos in the councils”.
Mkandawire then “strongly” urged the Ministry of Local Government to expedite the process of dispatching official appointment letters of the acting controlling officers to all the 34 councils.
“We also would like to ask the ministry to come out in the open and tell Malawians why it has such an insatiable appetite of undermining the political leadership of local governments in Malawi. As of now, political leaders (Mayors/Chairpersons) are yet to be officially communicated on the positions of acting controlling officers of the councils,” further said Mkandawire.
But reacting to these concerns, Charles Makanga, who “sits in” as Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government, denied receiving or seeing any letter from Malga, adding that government is actually “sorting out” the appointment letters.
“In fact, Malga cannot tell us what to do. This issue is between the employer and the employee.
“Government works through procedures. There are people in the government system who are responsible for handling employees contracts and working conditions. They are doing their part and the matter will be sorted,” said Makanga.
A University of Malawi lecturer in public policy and administration at Chancellor College Professor Happy Kayuni said written communication is critical.
“In this era whereby government is projecting a progressive reform agenda for the public sector, it needs to move away from relying on oral communication. It projects an image of lack of seriousness on the part of government. It is difficult to verify if indeed they are occupying those positions legitimately,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :