TUM reacts on Education PS  transfer: JB’s sister Anjimile yet to know new roles at OPC

In a statement issued this week, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep)   criticized President Peter Mutharika for his alleged“nepotistic and political patronage tendencies” in the way top public officers are being dismissed or transferred. Before the ink had dried on that statement, the President is at it again.

Mutharika has moved former President Joyce Banda’s sister Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo from the Ministry of Education to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC). She was the Principal Secretary for the ministry and is now heading to OPC where her new role is yet to be spelt out.

Mtila-Oponyo refused to comment on her redeployment.

Mtila-Oponyo: Her posting to OPC  was with immediate effect
Mtila-Oponyo: Her posting to OPC was with immediate effect

But the Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM)has bemoaned the transfer of Mtila-Oponyo, describing the development as “misplacement of human resources”.

In a telephone interview with Nyasa Times from the Capital City, Lilongwe, TUM’s Secretary General, Denis Kalekeni, said while the union has no powers to challenge the decision “made at the highest level”, teachers in Malawi and the entire education system have lost a “dedicated, energetic and highly educated education specialist in Oponyo”.

“We shall miss her unparalleled knowledge and expertise; she made a very big difference when she came in as PS at education. The welfare of teachers gradually changed for the better; there used to be long queues of teachers at the Ministry Headquarters with various grievances but you will find none today; thanks to Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo’s way of dealing with issues affecting us,” said Kalekeni, adding that a thorny issue of teachers’ promotion was decisively dealt with by Oponyo and that most deserving teachers were promoted.

Kalekeni, however, was quick to add that as a Union, they also welcome the  Oponyo’s replacement at the Ministry of Education, Thokozile Banda, describing Banda as “highly experienced” having served in the system for many years.

The removal of Mtila-Oponyo, which comes fast on the heels of declaration on Sunday by President Mutharika that his administration is not victimizing any top public officer based on politics and where they come from.

“President Mutharika is increasingly proving to be a double-faced political Janus who cannot be taken for his word. As he is busy spiriting away accusations of nepotism and political vindictiveness at political podiums, some top public officers are simultaneously being fired from their positions. Many people now fear the President’s already oversized ego is dangerously getting out of hand, and soon it would be more than this country can handle,” noted one a political commentator Henry Kandoje.

“The case of Mtila-Oponyo is particularly telling. Her impeccable credentials pertaining to the development of education are self-explanatory and don’t need buttressing. Thokozile Banda, her replacement, is being rewarded for be DPP, the organizer of Amai a Bingu with the famous late ‘Namandwa’,” he added.

Oponyo taught at Stella Maris Secondary School in Blantyre before joining the Ministry of Education. The Ministry later sponsored her to travel and study in the United States of America (USA).

According to information on the internet, while she was in the USA, she worked for the United Nations(UN) in New York as a Senior Education Adviser and as Senior Education Specialist for the World Bank in Washington DC.

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