Ministry transfers two health workers from health centre for attending political rally

By Jordan Simeon-Phiri, MEC Stringer

Ministry of Health has moved two medical assistants from Nthalire Health Centre for allegedly attending Tonse Alliance campaign rally last week in the area held by Freedom Party (FP) president Khumbo Kachale.

However, the decision to move the two has not gone down well with community members who have threatened to block the vehicle coming to pick the transferred health workers at Nthalire if the Ministry of Health does not rescind its politically motivated decision to move two senior members of staff from the facility.

Freedom Party president Khumbo Kachale (right)

Speaking in an interview on behalf of the community, Chadoloka Gondwe said the community is irked with the transfers for the health facility’s in-charge Emmanuel Salima and a medical assistant Duncan Nyondo whom he described as dedicated, committed and caring medical workers.

““Nthalire community is not amused with the influence that Member of Parliament for Chitipa South Constituency Welani Chilanga did by peddling lies to the Minister of Health Jappie Mhango that the two are serving the interests of the opposition parties therefore they have to be transferred,” Gondwe said.

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“We will do all it can to block their transfer even if it means closing the health facility”.

However, investigations have indicated that the duo’’s sin is that they attended a campaign mass rally Tonse Alliance that Kachale conducted in the area last week.

Both Salima and Nyondo confirmed the development but could not link the transfers to politics, saying transfers in civil service are normal.

Health Minister Jappie Mhango

However, in an interview, Chilenga feigned ignorance on the transfers of the two, saying : “I don’t know what you are talking about, call the Minister of Health”.”

A health governance commentator Maziko Matemba cautioned both government and civil servants to tread carefully when dealing with such issues, saying civil servants have to abide by electoral laws that prohibit serving civil servants from participating in politics.

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“If the two are being punished for attending a campaign rally, then government is infringing their right to freedom of association as they are supposed to make an informed decision on who to vote for. 

“Therefore, government has to treat the two factors differently because in this case health service delivery may be affected at Nthalire Health Centre,”” Matemba said.

However, when called for his side of the story, Chitipa District Hospital director of health and social services Ted Bandawe cut the line and efforts to call him again proved futile as he could not pick subsequent calls while Health Minister Mhango was out of reach.