Cheating does not pay, so the saying goes! The proverb has proven true for the former Director General (DG) for the State-funded Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA), Godfrey Itaye, and many others who have had their contracts with the Authority nullified today.
The Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has ordered the nullification of all the contracts Itaye et al following revelations that they were illegally and irregularly employed at MACRA.
Chizuma makes the sentiments when she released a report of her findings of her investigation into allegations of irregularities, nepotism, tribalism, abuse of office and other acts of maladministration in recruitment process of some staff members by Itaye whilst he was heading MACRA and his own recruitment.
She stressed that Itaye’s employment history from 2014 when he was appointed PMG to date each of his subsequent appointments and so-called redeployments are marred by, reek and have a stench of illegalities, irregularities, abuse of power, suspicious and unsophisticated attempts to make a mockery of the law and public service recruitment processes.
She said whilst the evidence somehow shows that Itaye was appointed DG of MACRA by the Minister on recommendation by the Board of MACRA in 2015, it is clear that such recommendation was made without subjecting him to open and transparent interview process as is required by law under Section 4 of the Public Service Act.
“The appointment was therefore illegal. The illegality of the appointment of Mr. Itaye was not only by virtue of lack of interviews but also the fact that his name was proposed by Government to the Board to recommend back to Government for final approval. This is contrary to the spirit of s19 of the Communication Act, 1998,” said Chizuma.
She added that Itaye’s employment as PMG in 2014 was illegal as under Section 78 of the Communication Act (1998), it is the Minister of Information who was mandated to appoint the PMG on recommendation from the Board.
Chizuma observed that contrary to this, the evidence showed that Itaye was appointed PMG by the President through the then Chief Secretary, William Samute, and facilitated by the former CSC Mr. Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi.
The Ombudsman said none of these had the legal mandate to make the appointment.
“Further to this there is no evidence that the recommendation was on merit after an open and transparent process as is required under s4 Public Service Act. This was maladministration. Going by sequence of events, it is my further finding that Mr. Godfrey Itaye 2015 appointment as DG of MACRA was not only illegal, but was also irregular and a mockery to public service recruitment process. The evidence clearly shows that the Board was informed of the disapproval of the appointment of Mr. Andrew Kumbatira as DG of MACRA by the Minister on 10th August 2015.
“On the same 10th August, 2015 the position of the DG of MACRA was declared vacant. On the same day, the Board was informed that Government was proposing the name of Mr. Godfrey Itaye as DG. On the same 10th August 2015 the Board deliberated on the experience and record of Mr. Itaye and resolved to recommend Mr. Itaye to the Minister. On the same day 10th August 2015 the Board wrote the Minister of Information recommending appointment of Mr. Itaye. On the same day the Minister approved and on the same day the PS of Information who going by the minutes was actually at the same meeting wrote the Board informing them of the Minister’s approval of the appointment of Mr. Itaye,” she said.
“Unless it can be proved that 10th August 2015 had more than 24 hours or that on this day there was a miracle of Joshua 10 v 13 , the fact is, it is clear that even with the highest efficiency which is not there in the first place in our public bodies, there is no way all these processes could have happened in just one day. The only explanation could be that some of the letters were already written and that the Board was simply rubber stamping that which had already been set. The whole process was a mockery. I therefore nullify all these contracts including the one on which he is currently serving effective from 31st January 2020 to 30th January 2022. I direct the Board to effect the nullification immediately and to give me evidence of the same by 30th May, 2021,” she directed.
Chizuma has further directed the Board not to pay Itaye his terminal benefits if any under the 2016 to 2019 contract.
She emphasized that if such terminal benefits were already paid, the Board should claim the same from him.
Chizuma said any claim that Itaye may have in as far as the above two allegations are concerned cannot lie to MACRA, but to individual public officers who were solely responsible for his illegal, irregular and suspicious appointments and redeployments.
“No tax payers’ money belonging to Malawians should be used to settle any such claims,” she emphasized.
Apart from Itaye, Chizuma has also ordered the nullification of contracts for Fearless Malulu as Internal Auditor Director and Benson Tembo as Digital Migration Advisor, Timothy Sukali (Director of Postal Services) and Ruth Mgwede Mdala who was the Director of Economic Affairs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :