Education ministry staff demands PS Magwira out: ‘Targeted for combating corruption’

Barely days after Malawi government announced a salary increment of 61 percent for civil servants, employees at the education ministry in Capitol Hill are refusing to resume work until Principal Secretary of the ministry Mcphell Magwira  is removed, Nyasa Times has established.

A visit by Nyasa Times reporters to the ministry of education block on Monday found out that the building was to larger extent abandoned leaving behind placards on the entrance with the name of Magwira appearing prominently to register their discontent.

Most of the placards demanded for the immediate removal of the experienced senior government servant calling him all sorts of unprintable names.

However, a senior officer in the ministry whose identity we are concealing for obvious reasons, Magwira is not the villain as the junior striking workers would want to make the world believe.

Civil servants in Ministry of Education on strike, demanding PS Magwira removed
Civil servants in Ministry of Education on strike, demanding PS Magwira removed

He disclosed that the PS has been tough on authorizing allowances for activities that are deemed dubious as such this has not pleased the employees who normally benefit from claiming of huge government allowances for duty they have not executed.

The official further added that Magwira has also been the target by a horde of employees who were embroiled in allowances scam where an audit report established that most employees in the ministry were found to have doctored days they went out in the field.

According to the audit report it was found out that one employee, for instance, could be found to have claimed allowances for 400 days in one fiscal year a development described as not feasible.

“As you are aware our ministry is very vast with a big funding in terms of our annual budget allocation. This is the source of confusion it seems. It is a very outstanding grudge the employees have been holding against the PS because he refuses to authorize funding for questionable trips whose aim is just to draw allowances.

“Magwira is the sort of person who refuses to be part of the corrupt syndicate that has rocked the system. It’s a ring that involves a whole wider network and the PS has been trying to cut the umbilical cord that is basically the reason they have ganged up against him,” lamented the official.

Meanwhile, it is not the first time for civil servants to protest against Magwira. Some few years back, the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) had to move in swiftly to remove him from Transport and Public Works where employees staged violent protests demanding for his head.

But in our investigations it has been discovered that coincidentally one of the masterminds of the previous protest who was director of planning in the ministry Victor Lungu was deployed to the Education ministry and there are strong signals that he is the one mobilizing the staff against their boss.

Nyasa Times sources say another bone of contention in the ministry is decision by OPC to put Magwira in charge of procurement replacing one Shaba who is said be part of the ring that also involves education ministry director of administration Isaac Msiska.

“Since Magwira took charge of procurement committee he has already blacklisted some two if not three companies as part of the cleanup. So it seems there was whole bunch of staff here in the ministry that used to benefit hugely from the blacklisted firms.

“Yes, as human being he has his own weaknesses but seriously the man is being targeted by a group of corrupt morons who regard him as thorn in their flesh,” added another source who is senior secretary to one of the directors in the ministry.

Efforts to talk to both Lungu and Msiska proved futile.

On his part, Magwira told Nyasa Times in a telephone interview that it’s an issue he would resolve reasonably with the disgruntled employees and not through the media.

Chief Secretary Bright Msaka said he was on his way to the airport but referred this reporter to his deputy Willie Samute who also refused to comment saying he is ill.

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