In a twist of events, the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament has faulted Malawi government for interdicting the Director of Public Officers Declaration Christopher Tukula, arguing the suspension is illegal.
Government interdicted Tukula on half pay, two months after his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for interfering with investigations relating to cashgate.
Tukula, who was appointed in August this year to become the first-ever Director in the Office of Directorate of Public Assets Declaration established by the Act of Parliament in Januray this year in an effort to fulfil the Constitution’s requirement that public officers should declare their assets, was initially arrested on October 17 2014 and later released on bail.
But PAC argued that government’s decision to suspend to Tukula is faulty as it is in conflict with the country’s Constitution.
According to PAC Chairperson Lingston Belekanyma, the suspension cannot be effected and that Tukula cannot vacate office.
Belekanyama said despite the Constitution giving the President powers to remove appointees, such decisions are still subject to the Committee.
“We are not saying he cannot be removed from office. PAC only found out about his interdiction in newspapers. Now, as an appointing body, we needed to know about his pending interdiction so that we discuss and give our position,” said Belekanyama.
According to Section 7 of the Public Officers (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Act, the appointment of the Director can only be made by PAC through a competitive process involving public advertisement and interviews.
While Section 8 says the President may, where it is considered desirable in the public interest to do so and with the confirmation by PAC, suspend the Director pending investigations to determine whether the director may be removed by PAC.
As such, Belekanyama stressed that Tukula cannot leave office until PAC meets and makes a decision.
“Otherwise, the decision is abnormal. We employed him, why should we not be consulted on his removal,” queried Belekanyama.
He urged government to reverse the suspension and follow the process as laid by the law.
Meanwhile, Tukula is reminding public officers listed in the First Schedule of the Public Officers (Declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Business Interests) Act 2013 that the deadline for the three month grace period he extended to them is December 31 2014.
Tukula also said his office will remain open during the entire festive period and that the Directorate has scheduled a programme of receiving declarations in other regions (Mzuzu and Blantyre).
“All listed public officers in the two regions are, therefore, being requested and encouraged to submit their completed Declaration Forms to the Director either at Mzuzu City Council offices or at the Blantyre City Council offices,” said Tukula.
He claimed that the schedule has been devised to as measure to reduce travel and related logistical challenges, which according to him, are likely to arise for officers to personally submit their declarations to the Director in Lilongwe.
“The arrangement also intends to guarantee easy and uninterrupted accessibility of the Directorate during the festive season,” he stressed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :