MERA Board member Likongwe resigns after Chapweteka betrayed him at the Ombudsman over Kachaje case

Likongwe deeply regrets his action 

* Apologizes to the Public Appointment Committee of Parliament and to MERA Board “for letting them down”

* “Whilst I was driven by my Christian values, I realize that legally I was not supposed to do that”

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi Energy and Regulatory Authority (MERA) board member, Pempho Likongwe has tendered his resignation following the controversy sorrounding Henry Kachaje, whose appointment as MERA’s CEO was faulted by the Ombudsman.

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In his announcement letter to the Comptroller of Statutory Corporations dated November 15, 2021, Likongwe says the resignation involves around Richard Chapweteka, who dragged Likongwe’s name in the Kachaje case during the hearing before the Ombudsman.

He recognises Chapweteka as a ‘friend’ having worked with him during the 2020 Presidential Elections Constitutional Court case and thereafter Chapweteka attended interviews for the post of MERA CEO.

Likongwe reveals that before the results of the MERA interviews were released, Chapweteka was appointed by President Lazarus Chakwera as Commissioner for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

Chapweteka claims State House promised him the MERA CEO post

Likongwe says he had heard from his close circles that Chapweteka intended to turn down his appointment as MEC Commissioner, believing he would be picked for the post of MERA CEO.

But Likongwe was also privy to the results of the MERA interviews as board member that indicated that Chapweteka “had not performed well and was not going to be appointed”.

“I am a Christian and I live by Christian values,” writes Likongwe. “One of the two great Commandments in the Holy Bible is ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. I knew at that time Mr. Chapweteka was jobless and needed a job to help him financially.

“As a Christian, I saw that my brother was on the verge of making a big blunder that would hurt him financially for many years to come” if he rejected the MEC post only to discover he had not been successful as MERA CEO.

The whole saga surrounds on Kachaje

Likongwe goes further to say he had the influence to help Chapweteka by advising him to accept the MEC appointment to which he personally did through a phone call.

In that conversation, Likongwe says he advised Chapweteka that if he declined the MEC post he risked “embarrassing the appointing authority” that is Chakwera as President and that he “might not be the successful candidate in the interviews for MERA CEO”.

Likongwe reveals that Chapweteka took his advice and accepted Chakwera’s appointment at MEC where he is “reaping benefits” following Likongwe’s intervention

“However, Mr. Chapweteka decided to report me to the Ombudsman. I have accepted that I did wrong by informing Mr. Chapweteka that he might not be the successful candidate in the MERA CEO interviews before the results were formally released

“I sincerely regret this. Whilst I was driven by my Christian values, I realize that legally I was not supposed to do that.”

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He thus apologizes to the Public Appointment Committee of Parliament that confirmed his appointment and to MERA Board “for letting them down on this issue”.

He, however, owns up that he only informed Chapweteka that he risked “embarrassing the appointing authority” if he had rejected the MEC post and that he “might not be the successful candidate” in the interviews for MERA CEO.

Likongwe accuses Chapweteka of telling the Ombudsman “lies” and quotes the Ombudsman’s Report pages 69 to 70, which indicates that “the Ombudsman found that Mr. Chapweteka was lying”.

“Be that as it was, I believe that the only honourable thing to do for the indiscretion of telling Mr. Chapweteka that he might not be successful candidate is to resign from the Board…with immediate effect.”

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At the Ombudsman Chapweteka is reported to have claimed that “he was deliberately given low marks despite performing well during the interviews”.

After snitching on Likongwe during the Ombudsman hearing, Chapweteka himself disclosed that he had contacted MERA Board chairperson Leonnard Chikadya to report on Likongwe’s action and the chairperson had indicated that he would push for Likongwe’s dismissal from the Board.

In her verdict, the Ombudsman Grace Tikambenji Malera established that Kachaje’s appointment as MERA CEO was irregular and ordered its cancellation.

The cancellation was based on Section 126 of the Constitution that provides that ‘where the investigations of the Ombudsman reveal sufficient evidence to satisfy him or her that an injustice has been done, the Ombudsman shall direct that appropriate administrative action be taken to redress the grievance; cause the appropriate authority to ensure that there are, in future, reasonably practicable remedies to redress a grievance; and refer a case to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a recommendation for prosecution”.

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