Malawi College of Medicine principal demands K70m compensation: Mipando challenges unlawful contract termination

The College of Medicine , one of the constituent colleges of University of Malawi is in internal crisis over non-renewal of contract of  former Principal Dr Mwapatsa Mipando who is demanding K70 million as minimum compensation for unfair and unlawful termination of his contract.

Mipando: Seeks compensantion

The position has currently been offered to Professor McPherson Mallewa .

University Council leadership refused to renew the contract of Mipando which  expired in July last year. In the same month July 2019 he wrote the University Council expressing interest to have the contract renewed. The University Council responded more than a year later , in a letter dated 6th November  2020 and signed by University Registrar Dr  Benedict Wokomaatani Malunga advising him to leave immediately and to hand over everything to an acting Principal, Mallewa  who has been Mipando’s deputy during his tenure.

A letter from lawyers, Nicholls & Brookes — addressed  to the Registrar of the University of Malawi (UNIMA) dated November 20, 2020 — this compensation sum represents Mipando’s net earnings, perks and loss of use of official car he was entitled to use and computed at the prevailing cost of hiring a similar vehicle.

“This has been calculated for the period of 10 months up to when  his two -year contract would have terminated by effluxion of time,” says the letter, copied to UNIMA Vice-Chancellor; Secretary for Education;   Comptroller of Statutory Corporation and DHRMD Principal Secretary.

“It also represents a mark-up for the distress and anxiety caused by this abrupt, inconsiderate, unjustified, wanton and patently whimsical termination,” reads the letter in part.

The lawyers argue that Mipando is entitled to service gratuity calculated at the rate of his benefits when it was first due,1st July 2020 as resolved by Council of the University during its 117th Ordinary Meeting.

“Our client is in the category of longest serving members which  Council ranked second from retirees in terms of payment of service gratuity.

“To our Client’s knowledge, service gratuity has not been paid yet due to financial constraints on the part of the University. To be clear, it is legitimately expected that at the time of payment, our client’s service gratuity will be computed at the higher rate of earnings that he was entitled to have the gratuity been paid in July 2020.”

Mipando is basing his lawsuit that he was appointed as COM Principal on a 4-year contract effective 3rd August 2015.

And on August 13, 2019 — following the Pro Vice-Chancellor’s advice during a face-to-face discussion which he had with him on 31st July 2019 — Mipando wrote the UNIMA Registrar notifying of the expiry of his contract and expressing interest to continue serving during the still on-going delinking of UNIMA.

“This was further in keeping with the 111th UNIMA Ordinary  Council Meeting’s resolution that pending completion of delinking, all  senior management of the Colleges should be offered 2-year contracts, subject to automatic termination if delinking occurs earlier.

“This resolution was followed through by your letter dated 10th July 2018 in which you directed that 2 years contracts should be offered to those whose contract would be expiring.

“In keeping with that resolution, the College of Medicine’s Finance Officer and the Vice Principal, were offered a 2-year contracts.”

Mipando further contend that it was by the same token that the contracts for the Polytechnic Principal was renewed in 2018 and that of Chancellor College was renewed also in 2018 and further renewed in 2020 when they expired.

He further argue that as a member of Council, he is not aware of any Council meeting which resolved to terminate his contract — however, he is aware that the current Council chairman (Professor Jack Wirima) and the Pro-Vice Chancellor of UNIMA, in his capacity as chairman of the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee of the Council, met with the now acting Principal at the Wirima’s Mwaiwathu Hospital prior to his appointment.

“On our reading of the applicable law, this ‘Mwaiwathu affair’ hardly passes for a Council meeting that would resolve to terminate our client’s contract prematurely.

“Furthermore, whereas your letter of 6th November 2020 indicated that our client should use the rest of the month for handovers, on 18 November 2020 the Registrar for College of Medicine advised that our client shall revert to his salary and benefits as before his appointment as Principal from the 10th November 2020.

“This is clearly abrupt and disregards any consideration of notice as a fair labour practice. The termination of our client’s contract is spiteful, harsh, inconsiderate, and in any event unconnected to any lawful reasons that would warrant it,” says the letters signed lawyer Bright Theu.

Deans and other staff members wrote the University Council expressing concern with the prompt removal of Mipando .

Reads an email dated 14 November 2020  addressed to the Registrar which Nyasa Times has seen: “We would have loved to see this transition managed differently. Unless there is / was an urgent and pressing need / reason for the change to happen in such an abrupt manner, it is generally nice to have a respectable period of transition to allow for smooth transfer of powers and handovers, such a high office deserves a much better coordinated transfer. This is critical for several reasons as Internally, the College management needed to prepare for the transition.”

One Professor also wrote an email to the college leadership, bemoaning the manner in which the Principal has been hastily kicked out.

“A big injustice has been done to Dr. Mipando,  Ma be we did not need to be informed for whatever reason, but the management and deans at least needed to know and prepare for such an important change. The College has many local and international partners and collaborators who equally need to be made aware of the changes in a timely manner. This is important as the office of the principal and the incumbent, legally has signing powers for various instruments, grants.”

Another argument raised by the concerned staff members is that UNIMA is still in the process of de-linking, which may be finalized soon. The removal of Mipando is particularly surprising as it is claimed staff were informed, during the briefing meetings, that during this de-linking process, incumbents will hold office until the process is completed to avoid unnecessary position changes and for continuity.

Mipando has been a principal of College of Medicine after preceding Prof Broadhead . He has previously served as vice principal, dean of faculty, head of department of Physiology. A trained physiologist having graduated from University of Malawi (Bed in Biology), University of Liverpool (MSc-Physiology) and University of KwaZulu Natal (PhD-Physiology).

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nafundo zalo
nafundo zalo
1 month ago

nde boma linamikwitsalo paja ndondomeko amaiziwa okha. olakwa ocimwa osacimwa aliyese akangopanga ngati zose zili bwino bwino. azativutise .kontraki yake simwati 2019 hetini? akadandaule komweko. osatililotsa malilo acaeni ake apa.
being a Dr so and so I thot you could check the numbers before popping the demands. mxiii

Alamu Pumani Mwakalamba

Mipando is likely going to win his case in court. Where UNIMA goofed is allowing Mipando to work after his contract expired in 2019. This impliedly means the contract was renewed. The problem which remains is the madness that happens at IRC where cases take ages to be concluded. I wonder what the Ministry of Justice is doing about this issue. It is one of the issues that makes Malawi a failed state.

Benson
1 month ago

How can he claim that amount of money when his contract was expired? He cannot base his argument that it was supposed to be renewed, really? If he was working without contact, there was no legally binding agreement. Just go home and let management calculate his gratuity. Don’t be so greedy to bring the already struggling college to bankruptcy. You don’t know, your children may seek to learn at the same institution in future

Akuchikazi
Akuchikazi
1 month ago

kodi abale delinking itha liti? tithandizeni tichoke mmanja mwa Malunga. munthu woipa kwambiri. chonde chonde tagwira mwendo. odandaula akuchikazi.

mtete
mtete
1 month ago

I have reservations on Contract Appointments for people like him. Maybe they have measurables to assess them in.
I am against Contracts for civil servants like Ps. What are they measured on. These guys get their dues regardless of whether they deliver or not. These are the causes of wasted monetary resources whenever such people are booted out as a result of disroyalty or inefficiency. They demand the moon

Zawela
Zawela
1 month ago

The one who bewitched Malawi was really a witch?

Domingos Matondo
Domingos Matondo
1 month ago

This matter needs to be examined with a sober mind. Why did the council had to wait until one year only to tell the learned principal that his contract was terminated. These inefficiencies are the ones that the reforms need to bulldoze if we are serious in the country. I mean one year! Sure?? are we serious? This man should be reinstated and allowed to continue with his innovations like now the college has a vibrant clinic. That clinic by the way was long overdue. So that should be the trend for our colleges and universities. Of course may the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Domingos Matondo
Tomato
Tomato
1 month ago

I fully agree with this submission. I gave an impression that the Clinic established at the College is what irked some powerful folks up the ladder. May be for fear of competition. Let the innovative young man be reinstated to continue with his life transforming Projects. Let thefe be sanity up the Board of University of Malawi.

Malawi Wokomera Tonse
Malawi Wokomera Tonse
1 month ago

Instead they want to delink and have the university always be some miniature institutions, the university could have had a big hospital where students from all facultiescould practice what they learn from administration, engineering to medicine before they get permanent jobs or businesses elsewhere 56 years ya UNIMA this was possible to happen pano akuti delinking, ma college akaxakulaso kufika pa UNIMA azapangaso delink ndekuti. This delinking theing asamatinamize kuti akumanga ma university ena, and I wish this could be halted immediately

Wa-Makala
Wa-Makala
1 month ago

It’s really a shame that anthu ophunzila mukukhomelelani chonchi. Walakwa chani mwana mwana-yu kuti muntero? I for one liked the transformation Dr Mipando was bringing to Colleague of Medicine (COM). Kapena were his projects at COM threats to somewhere…(?) am trying to open my eyes widely. A Malawi tamakhalakoni serious with the country.

James
James
1 month ago

Sometimes I wonder how we manage these things. So many benefits on top a huge salary. Not surprised people will try to cling on their posts. They wouldn’t manage their lives without the perks.

Fwanglubiro
Fwanglubiro
1 month ago

Simple the contract was not renewed because it expired.The continued working without a letter of renewal is illegal

wapayasa
wapayasa
1 month ago
Reply to  Fwanglubiro

Very simple indeed. His contract expired. Period!

He should also pay court cost for wasting court’s time for something obvious.

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