Malawi government has been accused of mobilising traditional leaders with cash favours to march in the capital Lilongwe and present a petition to Office of President and Cabinet calling on President Peter Mutharika to fire all striking state workers without compensation.
Economic problems facing Malawi have resulted in strikes by various government workers demanding higher pay. For example, support staff for the judiciary has been on strike for close to two months, seeking a 45 percent pay increase which the government says it cannot afford.
Workers at Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau also went on strike demanding a 70 percent pay raise until the government sealed off their offices and threatened to forfeit their December salaries if they did not return.
There are strikes at University of Malawi, teachers and medical workers have also threatened to join the action.
Under pressure from the growing strikes, government mobilised traditional leaders with cash favours ranging from K100,000 each to condemn workers withdrawing labour that they lack patriotism.
They chiefs presented the petition to Chief Secretary George Mkondiwa titled “Traditional leaders against strikes by public servant”.
Present during the presentation ceremony were Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga, Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa, Inkosi ya Makosi M’Mbelwa V of the Jere Ngoni in Mzimba and representatives of Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani V of the Maseko Ngoni in Ntcheu.
In their petition which was read by Paramount Chief Kyungu, the chiefs argued ‘things in the country have reached a point where they can no longer remain silent about abominable behaviour of public servants who are shunning away from work’.
“We condemn the strikes at the courts, Ant-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and university of Malawi and wish to state that the chiefs do not condone such reckless behaviour. Forcing government to raise salaries of civil servants at a time when there is a financial crisis in the country is unacceptable.
“Those workers who are boycotting work at the judiciary should know that it is their prime duty to administer justice in the country. By letting suspects to rot in jail without trial is denying them their human rights and therefore not acceptable in a democratic country where the rule of law prevails,” said Paramount Chief Kyungu who reads the petition.
Kyungu termed as unfortunate and shameful the decision by ACB staff to put down tools, adding chiefs would like to see cash gate cases completed and that university of Malawi workers who are on strike should discuss with their immediate bosses.
The chiefs said all those who are boycotting work should go back to their positions with immediate effect and failure to do so President Muhtarika should fire them without giving them compensation and offer the unemployed the job.
Chief Secretary George Mkondiwa assured the chiefs that Mutharika would address the concerns as soon as possible.
The petition which has been signed by over 170 chiefs countrywide has since asked all people working in government to be patriotic and loyal.
Government spokesperson Kondwani Nankhumwa denied suggestions that Capital Hill has a hand in coordinating the chiefs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :