Thodi and the Kangaraoo justice at State House

Democracy is all about transparency. We at the Nyasa Times opposed the Bingu wa Mutharika government because of the backroom deals that characterized some public appointments and firing. We are afraid a similar trend  may emerge with the new Joyce Banda administration.

There are four cases that we can point to:  The ACB Director was asked to resign, and after his refusal, he has been charged at a time when Bakili Muluzi’s case is about to start hearing. Bakili himself seems to have recovered from the incessant back problems that he suffered during Mutharika’s tenure.

Like Nampota’s case, the minutes from the Parliamentary Service Commission reveal that the office of the presidency is involved in illegally removing Clerk of Parliament Matilda  Katopola from her permanent appointment.

The re-emergence of Kangaroo courts that characterized the Mutharika government seem to be intensified, as you will read in the following detailed report on fired Immigration chief Elvis Thodi.  And the celebration of 100 days by the People’s  Party recently. We at the Nyasa Times wonder, how do we celebrate when we have teachers that are still unpaid; how do we celebrate when nurses are striking over a legitimate allowance issue; how do we celebrate when the costs of living have pushed more people into the poverty circles?

Nyasa Times wants to warn Malawians that dictatorship does not announce its arrival. It arrives like a friend, weakens the system like snake poison, and kills like death itself. The very silence of our public institutions over the purge that is taking place in Malawi is not healthy not just for democracy, but for our country’s development. There are lots of professionals doing their jobs with the professional and moral dignity that they learn in the university. But we are trying to turn them into political zombies. The firing of one Erica Maganga for an approval that was legally carried out by the ministry’s procurement committee is baffling, even if we don’t like the fact that some of the tender awardees supported DPP.

Thodi was found guilty in a kangaroo court which was co-chaired by our president and her vice president. We would like to remind the nation that the land of Malawi has eyes and ears – and very soon, something is going to hit the fan. Nyasa Times will always be here to provide live and detailed coverage of the action, as history unfolds.

Fast facts: Thodi has served two terms of contract with the Immigration Department. The last contract begun on 24th August, 2009 and was slated to expire on 23rd August, 2012. Impeccable sources have revealed that the current regime has been searching for reasons to fire him but that did not materialize until 8th July, 2012 when Thodi was called to a meeting at the New State House in Lilongwe.

It all begun by a phone call on 5th July, 2012 when an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs informed Thodi that he was to attend a meeting at New State House with the State President. Thodi was to be accompanied by all senior officers in the Immigration Department starting from the rank of Superintendent. Upon arrival in Lilongwe, Thodi briefed his officers about the meeting clearly stating that he was not aware of the agenda of the meeting that they were attending on Sunday, 8th July, 2012 and requested his officers to abide by the directions that the convener of the meeting was going to advise while at the New State House.

When the meeting was convened on that Sunday, it was surprising that two junior officers namely S/Insps.  Chalira, and Mataka also attended the meeting without the knowledge of their Chief. Furthermore, Principal immigration Officer Andrew Chifukwa, otherwise Assistant Commissioner in Police circles, who was at the material time on interdiction for several instances of misconduct ranging from being disrespectful to the superiors including the Chief Immigration Officer, and corruption on issuing passports to people, was also in attendance.

The State President was flanked by the Veep  Khumbo Kachale, Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa, Chief Secretary Bright Msaka, Principal Secretary for Home Affairs Zangazanga Chikhosi and Principal Secretary II Ben Chisamile. President Banda then surprisingly told the  officers that each one of them should be free to talk and should not take heed of Thodi’s advice on how to conduct themselves during the meeting. The State President requested the officers to state whatever problems they had at the Immigration Department.  The first to speak was Senior Immigration Officer Philbert Mwalweni who stated that the main problem at the Department was that Thodi does not promote them and has no regard for their welfare. The State President then called upon Thodi to respond on this allegation. Thodi told the gathering that he had on two occasions made recommendations for the promotion of some of the senior officers to the Office of President and Cabinet as required by the prescribed procedure but no response has come this far. Surprisingly, Msaka immediately refuted that he ever saw any such recommendations.

The next to state the case against Thodi was Assistant Commissioner Mankhwala who stated that Thodi was a problem and that he had on several occasions been saying that he only feared Bingu and could not consult his officers when making decisions. Then Senior Assistant Commissioner Sibande who was transferred from Lilongwe to Zomba stated that he was belittled by being transferred to Zomba where he occupies a small office. The President then remarked by asking Sibande whether he was the one who occupies an office that looks like a toilet in Zomba.

The climax of the kangaroo hearing was when Andrew Chifukwa, who was on interdiction and joined the Immigration Department when the National Intelligence Bureau was disbanded during the Bingu administration and could not be given Immigration uniform because he was not trained as an immigration officer, forked out a prepared speech from his pocket. Chifukwa stated that Thodi was corrupt and that he had issued passports to three families of Burundi origins without following proper procedures.

Ironically, he produced a list of the names of the Burundians which clearly showed that the List came from the then Home Affairs Minister Aaron Sangala instructing Thodi to issue passports to the Burundians. Furthermore, the passports were issued following recommendations from Salima Central Member of Parliament and the District Commissioner of Salima because they were running orphanages and paying school fees for children in the area. Besides, Thodi had even recommended to the Ministry that the National Intelligence Service should vet the names of the Burundians to ascertain whether they were not among the wanted persons on the genocide crimes list. There was actually a Memo from the National Intelligence Unit   recommending these Burundians to be naturalized as Malawian citizenship and be issued with Malawi Passport.

Chifukwa proceeded to state that Thodi was favouring junior and young officers and he gave an example of Fletcher Nyirenda who was at that time attending the African Union meeting in Ethiopia instead of Mwalweni. It was rather interesting to note that Thodi categorically stated that Fletcher was attending a Technical Committee Meeting of the European Union-African Union Dialogue on Mobility and Migration having been elected into the Committee while in Brussels and was just attending periodical review meetings. Chifukwa also stated that Thodi had ordered guns from Genecks, the tradiotional supplier of uniforms to the Police, Immigration and the Army in the Republic of South Africa but they were not delivered.

Thodi was again called upon by the President to respond to this allegation with a yes or no answer. Thodi stated that due to the problems that were encountered with the restrictions on exportation of the guns by the Republic of South Africa from the Republic of South Africa to Malawi, the Internal Procurement Committee of the Department resolved that the supplier should instead supply uniform for immigration officers at the value of slightly above K2, 000, 000.00 in lieu of the guns. The uniforms were actually supplied. This is actually minuted by the IPC of the Department.

 

There were also two Yemen citizens who had come to administer the deceased Estate of Muhammed Nahd, the late Petroda owner, who were arrested on an operation that Thodi had ordered but were released on bail, because there was an application for extension of their stay in Malawi with the Department. The President produced passports of the two Yemen nationals and quizzed why Thodi allowed Yemen nationals to enter Malawi. Thereafter, the President closed the meeting by promising to revamp the Department and that she was going to take bold decisions in respect to the Department. Our sources are indicating that the Government wants to find reasons to arrest and try Thodi.

The following day, Thodi was handed with a letter informing him that Government would no longer renew his contract and should proceed on leave pending the expiry of his contract on 23rd August, 2012.

We at the Nyasa Times are shocked to hear of this kind of hearing, especially by a government that flags good governance as a guiding philosophy. Thodi, like any professional, had his shortfalls, but to subject him to such kind of kangaroo evaluation smacks of deep hatred  for certain people and names. Malawi has a problems of ethnicity, and when people see that the majority of professionals being harassed and fired for no reason come from certain regions, they begin to question a lot of things.

We would like to warn the PP government that rules of natural justice should be followed in hiring and firing professionals. Thodi did not know the nature of the allegations that he was going to face nor was he allowed to cross-examine the persons making allegations against him. Furthermore, Thodi was not told in advance that he was attending a disciplinary hearing. And little did Thodi expect that he would be subjected to a hearing before the Head of State without being given an opportunity to prepare for his defense.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times congratulate Mr Hudson Mankhwala for his appointment as the new Chief Immigration Officer. We encourage him to hit the ground and speed up processing of passports and clean up on illegal immigrants.

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