Malawi government has been faulted for its decision to seal Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) offices nationwide following its staff industrial action, as it has no legal basis.
Dean of law at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, Mwiza Nkhata said the sealing to ACB offices by Police lacked legal basis.
“I am failing to find legal basis for the action. Even if they question the legality of the strike, they cannot seal offices because it is a labour issue,” said Nkhata as quoted by The Nation newspaper of December 17, 2014.
Nkhata also dismissed claims that the idea is to protect property, wondering whether government has information that files or other property are being destroyed during the strike.
He warned government that the strike is a labour issue and its action will solve nothing.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for Development of People (Cedep) have issued the statement saying the sealing of ACB offices by Mutharika’s regime as another disaster, calling it the ‘worst expected of his administration’.
The statement was signed by CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo and Cedep’s Gift Trapence noted that there are fears that the sealing exercise shall be extended to the Judiciary and any potential grouping who may resort to strikes as a way of bringing their grievances to the attention of the regime .
But Deputy Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama said the action is aimed at protecting the structure, property and those that are willing to work during the strike.
“Whenever there is a strike, the police provide security because of the unpredictability of the strike action. You can’t be sure about what one [staff member] will be doing during strike and it is necessary to take precautionary measures,” said Kachama.
ACB deputy director-general Reynack Matemba said government informed management of the decision to deal the offices but that he could not say that they were consulted.
Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa justified the decision to seal off the offices, saying the move was aimed at protecting files and other government property amid the chaos raised by the strike.
ACB staff want 70 percent salary increase and have so far rejected an offer of 10 percent.
The Bureau chief Lucas Kondowe recently lamented that his office has been underfunded for investigations into the Cashgate scandal that brought down former president Joyce Banda.
Meanwhile, from courtroom staff on strike for the past six weeks to primary school teachers boycotting classes to obtain salaries not paid for the past six months, labour militancy appears to be on the rise. Supporting staff of the University of Malawi have also launched a sit in to demand a 45 percent salary hike.
Doctors and nurses in public hospitals are also demanding pay rise and threatening to withdraw labour.
On the strikes, CHRR and Cedep expressed sadness that the President is yet to step up to address the aggrieved parties on the feud.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :