HRDC calls for immediate firing of MANEB board executive director Chiunda

By Duncan Mlanjira

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) demands the immediate resignation or firing of the Malawi National Examination Board [MANEB] Executive Director, Gerald Axel Chiunda for gross failure in leadership and management of this year’s Malawi Schools Certificate of Examinations (MSCE).

HRDC contends that Chiunda cannot not be trustedwith another huge responsibility to preside over yet another examination as “he has grossly failed, and he needs to be relieved of his duties with immediate effect”.

“While we welcome the hard call the Malawi Government has made in calling off the leaked Malawi Schools Certificate of Examinations, we contend that this is not enough; a swift and thorough investigation into this crisis need to be instituted,” says a stamens from HRDC.

“This crisis is costly and a huge embarrassment to the country. It is time someone takes responsibility and be held personally liable for such a mess.

“The new Malawi we fought for does not take and accommodate mediocrity. We take this opportunity to raise a few concerns as regards the plans to readminister these exams as follows;

1. The proposed timeframe is in our considered view too long a wait for the candidates. We do not find any merit whatsoever for the candidates to wait till March 2021 to retake the examinations. We demand that the examinations be retaken in the shortest time possible. The exams should be retaken in a months’ time at most. In 2000 MANEB took a record one month to prepare and readminister the Malawi Schools Certificate Examination. 

2. Relatedly, the more time government takes to readminister these examinations the more costly it will be not only on government but also on parents and guardians. Already some private school are planning of a fourth term for these candidates come January 2021. 

“To this end we demand as follows.

1. That Mr. Chiunda be relievedof his duties or should step down within five days from today. At the expiry of five days we will be left with no other option but to mobilize candidates to the streets to demand his resignation. 

2. That government should come up with reasonable timeframe to investigate and bring to book all those involved in this malpractice. In our considered view, these investigations and thorough report should be made available within three weeks from today. 

3. Government should also put in place measure to absorb and cushion the financial burden that guardians and parents are likely going to incur because of this mess. In our considered view we do not expect both government and private schools to demand schools’fees for the 

possible 4th terms for the candidates.

“In conclusion and in the spirit of the mindset change philosophy, its high time that those that hold leadership position take personal responsibility in matters like these,” said the statement signed by HRDC chairperson, Gift Trapence.

Cliff Chiunda, relation to the MANEB boss

Social media reports indicate that Gerald Axel Chiunda is part of all this scandal that he was politically appointed as MANEB executive director at the proposal by Cliff Chiunda, his relation.

He is reported not to gone through interviews and his qualifications is in environmental sciences.

Our source says that “for a long time, MANEB was not being funded appropriately but with Gerald Axel Chiunda acsendence to that post, DPP government started funding  MANEB timely.

“This was so because Chiunda promised the DPP government that MABEB will be used as an organisation through which the party will be getting its funding,” according to social media.

“So under that agreement, treasury used to release a lot of money through MANEB which was later channeled to the DPP. Chiunda took advantage of this to sort out some financial burdens which were created under previous administration due to lack of funding. 

“Furthermore, this situation gave Chiunda oan advantage to abuse public funds. He paid himself K17 million in allowances and asked every supplier to increase their invoices by 15% so that he gets his cut from every supplier who works with MANEB.

Nankhumwa involved in the scam

“After noting this, the director finance advised him not to be involved in such acts. Chiunda himself was not happy with this and he embarked on fault finding mission to have director finance fired.

“He created a lot of unfounded stories which led to suspension of Director Finance. The director finance has been on suspension for a year now.”

The social media allegations continue to says the situation was deliberately done so that Chiunda himself should be sole signatory of Maneb’s accounts and helped that no one else is aware of financial transactions that were being channeled to DPP.

“These issues of financial abuse were discovered by auditors from national audit office. Chiunda threated officers from national audit and the issue did not get any further,” says the allegations.

“It was reported to Comptroller of Statutory Corporation but [Ministet then] Kondwani Nankhumwa intervened and asked the board to forgive Chiunda and instructed the board to allow Chiunda repay the K17 million as a loan to which he has not done anything.

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“MANEB has been infested with suppliers, who are all DPP cadets so that it should appear as if the institution is paying a supplier while in actual sense, the organisation is releasing money for DPP activities,” say the allegations.

“Now, Mr Chiunda is trying every other step to align himself with Tonse led government. He has paid some Tonse colleagues to write good about him so that  those in leadership should feel sorry for him.

“But mind you, Chiunda has brought a lot of displeasure and harsh working environment to all MANEB staff. He has fired several committed members for no real reasons in order to bring on board a cadet.

“For example, he fired an officer for doing his noble duty of helping a client after he duly paid for a service. This happened because the service offered involved Honorable Nankhumwa.

“If it were any other Malawian, this officer could not have been fired. He has suspended director finance because of the advice that director finance gave contrary to Chiunda’ s steps of plundering institutional financial resources.

“He fired Principal Procurement officer because the officer told the executive director that it’s against the law to ask suppliers raise the invoice.

“Furthermore, he fired the senior human resources officer Mr Masapula because he wanted to employ cadets as his office spies…looking at how much damage he has caused to the organization’s structure and the staff that is there, MANEB needs direction and professional leadership, as its functions affect every family with school going child,” says the allegations from the public.

The allegations continue to say last year’s PSLCE was the worst tampered with in terms of data that more were selected from Lhomwe belt areas.

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“As people were demonstrating against quota and they demanded to verify the marked scripts of PSLCE, Chiunda called the frequent buyer of used paper, to come collect the 2019 past scripts earlier so that any evidence of tampering with scores is concealed,” the allegations continue.

“The policy states that past scripts are sold to firms that make tissue paper after passage of 3 years. But 2019 was different, they were sold 2 months after release of results due to quota calls pressure.

“MANEB has better able and competent managers who did well during the interviews of executive director but were left out as they had no political connections with the then ruling DPP.

“These people have been exposed to torture by the current executive director. And they have undergone hell under his leadership. Some have been sent on forced retirement,” say the allegations on social media.

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