Ombudsman staff plan strike demanding salary arrears

Staff of the Ombudsman office throughout Malawi will this Thursday go on strike in a bid to force government to pay them salary arrears dating back to 2008 but it is doubtful if the industrial action will have any impact as the current Ombudsman Tujilane Chizumila has rendered the constitutional office obsolete, Nyasa Times can reveal.

According to a copy of a petition seen by Nyasa Times and addressed to the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet with copies to the Secretary for labour and Secretary for Public service management, the employees said they were tired with government’s insensitivity to their plight hence the proposed strike.

One of the signatories of the letter, Yohane Sambakusi, confirmed about the strike when the matter was put to him.

Tujilane Chizumila: Malawi's Ombudsman

“We note with regret that, in spite of further court orders for enforcement of the judgement and our earnest efforts to engage efforts to engage government with a view to taking steps to implement the judgement and subsequent orders, to date the same remain unsatisfied, and no demonstrable step has been taken to comply,” the letter reads in part.

In contrast Chizumila, carts home MK700,000 per month as salary excluding other fringe benefits.

Malawi’s third Ombudsman Chizumila falsified figures of cases her office has concluded since her appointment two years ago claiming she had concluded 700 cases when she had done only done 15 and many of them in support of government.

Chizumila took over from Enoch Chibwana after the expiry of his contract. Chibwana is regarded as the most competent and credible Ombudsman Malawi has ever had because of his hard hitting and fearless determinations.

The current public protector’s non performance, according to our sources has scared many people away as they have no hope of getting redress.

Members of staff at the Ombudsman have the illusion that their strike will have the same effect as the judicial strike which ended recently after four months but a snap survey by Nyasa Times indicates that the office lost its touch with Malawians.

The strike will be necessitated by the expiry of the 7 day ultimatum to government which expires on May 24th, 2012, according to Sambakusi.

But an officer speaking on behalf of the Ombudsman  said the strike is “completely unnecessary” and believe the government will find it “unacceptable” if workers push ahead.

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