Ombudsman investigating Itaye on allegations of abuse of office in staff recruitment process

By Duncan Mlanjira

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma, has opened investigations on former Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) Director General, Simon Itaye on allegations of nepotism, tribalism and abuse of of office in the recruitment of officers during his tenure of office.

She has since asked the new MACRA Director General, Henry Shamu to compile a comprehensive response to each of the allegations she has highlighted.

“For avoidance of doubt, I would like your comments to touch on the recruitment process that was used for each of the positions in question i.e. the declaration of the vacancy, the adverts for the position, the shortlisting process, the interview process and the offer to successful candidates.

“As for allegations of irregularities on the employment of the former Director General himself, I shall expect the same details but also details of and submissions from referees on his suitability for employment.

On Itaye himself, it is alleged that he was irregularly employed as he was not fit to the high position considering that he had previously committed crimes with his former employer, National Bank of Malawi and in the course changed his name from Godfrey Masina to Godfrey Itaye.

“All this should be accompanied by supporting documents which should further include MACRA’s Terms and Conditions of Service, Staff Establishment, MACRA’s HR Policy and Recruitment Policy.

Shamu (right)

“Pursuant to section 124 of the Constitution, your supporting documentation should be provided with your response within 14 days from the date of this letter, thus not later than 25th September, 2020.”

The first on the list of positions under scrutiny is that of deputy director – human resource & administration that was occupied by Henry Macheso, who was hired in 2016 yet at that time the position was not on MACRA establishment and that the function of administration was already under director of finance and administration.

The post of human resource & administration was created later after Macheso had already been hired and was done through a dubious advertisement by an anonymous advert by way of a voucher in The Daily Times of October 2015.

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The second nepotistic recruitment was that of Itaye’s peers and allies from his Seventh Day Adventist Church and also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) loyalists for certain positions at MACRA despite that they did not have requisite qualifications.

These include McDonald Phoya as administration manager, who is a former teacher at St. Andrews and a DPP sympathizer.

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Charles Fodya, a renowned DPP sympathizer with no experience and knowledge of Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was recruited to head this new unit within MACRA mandated by Electronic Transaction and Cyber Security Act (2016).

“All his life has been in academia but recruited through staged interview by the former Director General due to his affiliation to DPP, leaving capable experienced internal staff who established, trained and worked for the department.

“Even before staged interviews were conducted, he was all over telling and communicating to people that he is starting job at MACRA. He reported for the job on 1st June, 2020 and is still on probation,” says the Ombudsman.

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Another case involves Director of Economic Affairs Ruth Mgwede Mdala, who also does not have knowledge of ICT let alone any experience of regulation in any related field as her immediate past job was with Institute of Chartered Accountants of Malawi (ICAM) as head of education and training.

“Her scoring in interviews was suspicious with one Board member giving her grades up to 98%. Furthermore, is it claimed that she was recruited as a reward for playing a role in hiring the MEC BDO Auditors for the 2019 elections.”

Other members of staff who were questionably recruited included manager economic affairs (research), Emmanuel Banda — a relation to Itaye’s wife; director of postal Timothy Sukali; revenue assurance manager Dan Datchi and universal access manager Frank Mdala.

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Others are universal access officer Vilanti Tambulasi; physical address project officer Limbani Sekani; information technology manager Tiyamike Zawanda; HR manager Chikumbutso Njolomole; Pilirani Msungama, Masautso Mkweteza and Mogadishu Dozola.

Other allegations are the recruitment of non-existent positions of internal audit director held by Fearless Malulu since 2016 and digital migration technical advisor held by Benson Tembo since 2014.

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There is also allegations of illegal composition of the Board of Directors that did not meet qualifications as provided under part 8.2b of the Communications Act.

These members are Sheena Mwala, Mphatso Gadama, Titani Kamtwera, Francis Mangazuwa (DPP Balaka District governor and Rev. Maulana.

“All these were were recruited because of affiliation to DPP with no qualifications,” Chizuma says. “The Communications Act requires Board members to have background in telecoms, postal, broadcasting, finance, administration, economics, legal among other and all these members had no such qualifications.”

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