There is drama over the post of acting chief executive officer (CEO) for State-owned National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) Hellen Buluma as days after President Lazarus Chakwera instructed Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) ZangaZanga Chikhosi to “address the anomaly” of appointing deputy CEO Buluma as acting CEO, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka has put his full weight behind her while members of staff have made serious allegations against the boss.
Chakwera asked Chikhosi as board chairperson of Nocma to sort the matter, saying the public outcry against her appointment had merit as she is a known operative of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
But Nyasa Times understands that Chikhosi is facing pressure from Mkaka, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary-general to ensure Buluma stay put at Nocma and as boss.
“There is adverse interest from Mkaka to save Buluma,” sources at Capital Hill, the seat of government in Lilongwe said.
The sources said Mkaka says Buluma was not given the Nocma jon on political loyalty but merit and that in keeping the spirit of promoting women in leadership positions, she should be spared.
But other government officals, say Mkaka’s support is not on principal but based on “private liaison” with Buluma.
Meanwhile, staff at Nocma their letter to the board chairperson of the company seen by Nyasa Times, allege that since Buluma took charge of the affairs of the company she has created a working environment that is not only demoralizing but also adverse to productivity at the company.
“First, we are infuriated by Ms. Buluma’s offensive disrespect for staff in her communication. To express displeasure with an employee’s action or lack of it, which we accept she is entitled to as institution head, Ms. Buluma has the tendency of deploying demeaning and insulting language. We find this repugnant and unacceptable as we are fully aware of the need for our human dignity to be respected regardless of our positions in the organization,” reads the letter dated November 5 2020.
They further state that in her state of anger, Buluma makes unfounded and wild allegations against staff members without seeking recourse to existing systems to establish the truth.
“Some of the allegations that she has, so far, made against staff are, in fact, criminal in nature. We abhor this approach to business as it breeds apprehension in staff. Thirdly, we are displeased with Ms. Buluma’s tendency to threaten staff with unspecified disciplinary action over petty issues that can be resolved through ordinary laid down organizational procedures. This, regrettably, torments staff and leaves them demotivated,” claim the staff members.
Buluma is also said to have a ‘Ms Know-it-all’ attitude, which tempts her to force staff members to do things her way, without creating space for negotiation or to listen to alternative views from professionals and specialists in their respective fields.
“We know very well that despite her authority, Ms. Buluma cannot always be right. We are aware of our right and obligation to offer solutions to organizational challenges. We feel worthless when the Acting CEO demonstrates outright that she is unwilling to listen to alternative views or professional advice. Last but not least, Ms. Buluma has cultivated the culture of gossip within the organization. On many occasions, it has been established that Ms. Buluma finds pleasure in gossiping about, and backstabbing, staff.
“This is so repulsive and unhealthy to the life of the organization. In addition, we find this disposition not befitting her high office. It is painful to inform you, Sir, that Ms. Buluma’s toxic relationship with staff is now regrettably irreparable. We feel victimized by the Acting CEO’s manner of relating with us staff who actually earned our employment with Nocma on merit,” continues the letter.
The staff members have vowed not to work under Buluma’s leadership in any capacity within the organization.
They have demanded that Buluma should be moved out of Nocma not later than 30th November, 2020, warning her continued stay at the company will force the staff members to suspend all company operations at all levels indefinitely.
“Please note that what we have at Nocma in terms of relations between Ms. Buluma and staff is a hopeless situation that cannot be redeemed with the Acting CEO walking the corridors of the company. Simply put, we are currently a dejected team because of Ms. Buluma’s conduct and ill treatment of staff. We sincerely hope that the Board will take necessary action so that, we, employees, can continue serving this country by ensuring consistent supply of liquid fuel,” they conclude.
Nocma board suspended CEO Gift Dulla and director of finance (DoF) Richard Milanzi to pave the way for investigations into alleged financial and procurement mismanagement at the entity.
The board appointed Buluma as acting CEO with Dingiswayo Sambo as acting DoF.
Nocma Limited is wholly-owned by the Government of Malawi and was formed in line with the National Energy Policy of January 2003, but was registered on December 14 2010 under the Companies Act of 1984.
The strategic company is involved in fuel importation, storage at strategic fuel reserves and distribution nationwide. It is complemented by Petroleum Importers Limited, a consortium of private sector petroleum trading companies.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :