* “Ameneyo wafa basi alibe ntchito (the officer has died, he is of no use”)
* You are insisting on attending a funeral of your uncle?…do you want to eat the deceased?”
By Duncan Mlanjira
Director General of the Department of Immigration & Citizenship Services Brigadier General Charles Kalumo (retired) is accused of being insensitive to funeral traditions to the extent that he allegedly insulted the soul of a departed uniformed officer, Sergeant Lawrence Austin Kwapata, saying the officer has died, he is of no use.
This has been revealed by Commissioner in the Department, Stanlake Kalimanjira in a petition he has sent to Secretary to Ministry of Homeland Security in which he detailed Kalumo’s gross mismanagement and leadership style.
The petition, dated July 3 is copied to Parliamentary Committee on Defence & Security, Secretary for Department of Human Resource Management & Development and to Kalumo himself — which highlights several areas that included his insensitivity to funeral traditions.
Writing on behalf of disgruntled staff, Kalimanjira alleges that Kalumo demands that officers should apply for leave when needing to attend a funeral of a departed uniformed officer.
Thus he gave an example of a couple of weeks back when the Department lost Sergeant Lawrence Austin Kwapata and when officers sought the approval to travel to Mulanje to attend the funeral, Kalumo is alleged to have responded: “Apply for leave and I have to approve…otherwise, ameneyo wafa basi alibe ntchito (the officer has died, he is of no use.”)
Another incident was that Senior Sueritendent Oswald Mhango, then officer in charge at Chileka Airport, was summoned to meet Kalumo over a month ago because officers under his command intended to restrict entry of a Nigerian as required by Immigration procedure.
It is alleged that the Nigerian had no prior clearance to enter Malawi and Senior Superintendent Mhango requested if Kalumo could shift the meeting as he wished to attend a funeral of his uncle.
But Kalumo is alleged to have responded: “You are insisting on attending a funeral of your uncle?…do you want to eat the deceased?”
“We cannot fathom, in our bewilderment, even in the wildest of dreams that such sentiments could come from the Director General,” Kalimanjira said in his petition on behalf of his fellow staff.
This is not the first time for the staff to voice out their disgruntlement of Kalumo’s leadership style. Just last month, an unsigned for petition that is purportedly authored by the Immigration staff went viral on social media that they intended to hold an industrial strike against the administration of the Director General.
In that anonymous petition, they also reveled that Kalumo facilitated for a diplomatic passport for Nigerian Dozy Mmobuosi, who was unveiled by former President Bakili Muluzi as the donor for the housing project in Phalombe to benefit Tropical Cyclone Freddy surviving families.
He was allegedly granted Malawi Diplomatic Passport (number MWD001402) during odd night hours of June 7, 2023 without following procedures — along with two others issued at the beginning of the year to Sudanese and South African nationals.
Diplomatic Passport number MWD001408 was issued to Sudanese investor, Gamal Younos Mohammed and MWD001408 Anos Gordon Noah who is reportedly a South African businessperson and the petition reveal that these two had fuel deals with the Malawi government and the passports were issued directly by Kalumo.
This issue was also revealed a report by the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) that was submitted to Parliamentary Affairs Committee by the then acting chief executive officer, Hellen Buluma.
The were also issued less than a week since Younos’ and Noah’s arrival in the country and also done without following procedures as they were not first granted Certificate of Naturalization — which were finalised later “as defence by Kalumo after the issuance of the passports was leaked and criticized”.
The Immigration staff took cognizance that the issuance of Malawi passports came in the wake of revocation of citizenship deemed to have been obtained dubiously by Rwandese, Congolese and Burundian asylum seekers.
Last month, Minister of Homeland Security, Kenneth Zikhale Ng’oma revoked citizenship of 396 foreign nationals who were dubiously assisted to acquire Malawian naturalization papers — which is in pursuant to public order and security within the precincts of the laws of Malawi and also in compliance with the Court’s decision in the case of the Republic vs Uladi Mussa and others being Criminal Case Number 2 of 2017.
Meanwhile, the Immigration staff reveal that when the issuance of the Diplomatic Passports to Younos and Noah was leaked to the public, which were also done in odd hours, Kalumo is alleged to have become “furious to officers blaming them of sabotage”.
“Many officers have been sent on suspensions for very minor issues even without being heard and one was fired recently and asked to surrender uniform simply for having a conflict with another officer and even before hearing from him what happened.”
The staff further alleged that Kalumo calls officers as “stupid, foolish” and all sorts of manner of insults — “even in the presence of clients” and that recently he closed and locked the office of Deputy Commissioner, Stanlake Kalimanjira who had just reported back to work from holiday”.
“Kalumo stopped talking or recognizing his deputy way back and transferred all the deputy’s duties to his staff officer, Fletcher Chihana, who is also an MDF retired [officer] and powerful than other senior officers.
“He was picked from outside the Immigration to be his staff officer and given Immigration uniform without any training,” allege the staff, while indicating that a strike is being planned to have Kalumo removed.
In February this year, the State, on the application of Immigration Department officer, Chikulupiliro Zidana, granted a judicial review which was applied for challenging President Lazarus Chakwera’s appoint of Kalumo as Director General.
However, with regard to the application by Zidana as claimant for stay of the decision, High Court Judge Mike Tembo exercised his discretion not to grant it “considering all the circumstances of this case and for the sake of good administration in that it is necessary that there is an officer in place until such time as the impugned decision is tested and the issues raised by the claimant are determined”.
Made in chambers on February 17, 2023 the Justice Tembo said in his application for the judicial review, that Zidana contended that President Chakwera’s decision to appoint Kalumo was illegal and irrational since the Director General was not in the public service at the time of his appointment.
He cited Section 3 of the Immigration Act that requires that appointment of a Director General or Chief Immigration Officer be from members serving in the public service — to which the putative (assumed) defendant on behalf of the President did not contest.
“The case of the claimant [Zidana] is that he has experience since 2012, as an immigration officer at the Department of Immigration & Citizenship Services,” said the Judge. “He seeks review of the decision of the putative defendant because the decision is illegal and irrational in that it contravenes a number of statutes or laws.
“He indicated the decision herein contravenes section 3 of the Immigration Act in that the Director General ought to be appointed by the Minister of Homeland Security and not the President of the Republic.
“In opposition to this, the defendant indicated that the President of the Republic has power under section 6 of the Public Service Act to appoint any person in public service to a post above the rank of under-secretary in which band the Director General’s post is. And that therefore the President was the appointing authority and not the Minster of Homeland Security.
“The putative defendant’s view is also that the claimant has no sufficient interest given that he is at Grade I/PO level and does not have the relevant experience for the post of Director General of Immigration & Citizenship Services contrary to the claimant’s assertions.
“The claimant then also alleged that the putative defendant’s decision is illegal and irrational for contravening section 29 of the Public Service Act which prescribes that anyone above the age of 60 years can no longer serve in public service.
“He asserted that the Director General was aged over the prescribed retirement age at the time of his appointment. There was no response from the putative defendant on this aspect.
“The claimant essentially seeks to challenge the appointment as illegal and irrational since there are serving members in public service eligible for the appointment herein rather than the incumbent Director General who is above the retirement age and was appointed from outside the public service.
“The putative defendant contended that in fact the impugned [challenged] decision itself cannot be challenged using the judicial review process but the decision making process only. And that, the claimant could therefore not challenge the decision herein in the manner he seeks to.
“The putative defendant also contended that the claimant is raising issues of discrimination at the workplace and that he should have commenced proceedings in the Industrial Relations Court and not before this Court.
“This Court observes that it appears that the claimant has standing before this Court given his years of experience in the Department spanning over a decade. He also now holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Degree.”
The Judge further said the issues raised by Zidana, “alleging that the impugned decision herein whereby public law powers under statute were exercised allegedly illegally and irrationally, bring the matter herein squarely under the purview of judicial review”.
“There are countless authorities to the effect that a decision will be subject to judicial review if it is alleged to constitute an irrational exercise of public power, in this case power under statute.
“In the final analysis, this Court finds that the present application has merit in that the issues raised are fit to proceed to a full hearing and this Court grants the claimant permission to apply for judicial review.
“The defendant shall therefore file a defence within the time stipulated by the rules of civil procedure once the application herein is served.
Brigadier General Kalumo (retired) was appointed through a public notice from the Office of the President and Cabinet on 5th August, 2022 — made in pursuant to the powers of his office provided for in section 89 of the Constitution and section 6 of the Public Service Act.