By Duncan Mlanjira
The Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma is investigating allegations of UN procedural recruitment of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) chief executive officer, Collins Magalasi and his improper and irregular recruitment of other members as well as abuse of benefits by his personal secretary.
This is being done under section 1.23 of the Constitution and section 5 of the Ombudsman Act, which mandates her office to investigate cases of alleged injustice, abuse of power, unfair rreatment and unreasonable, unfair and unjust discharge of duty by any public officer or public office.
The allegations follows a complaint made, alleging that Magalasi was recruited as CEO in November 2017 without the job being advertised to allow competitiveness of willing and eligible applicants, which is contrary to the provisions of the Energy Regulation Act — which requites that the job be advertised.
The second count is the irregular recruitment of the director of electricity and renewable energy, Maxon Mkumba who is reported not possessing engineering qualification (Masters of Electrical Engineering or Renewable Technology), which is the entry pre requisites for the job according to the job advert.
It is reported that Mkumba did not apply for the job and he did not attend interviews for the job.
Director for liquid, fuel and gas, Alinane Nkaveya is alleged to have been recruited yet she does not have the prerequisite qualifications — a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry or Engineering — as per the advert.
Chimwemwe Duncalo is also alleged to have been irregularly recruited as director of economic regulation, whose specific prerequisite education qualification requirements is Masters Degree in Economics.
“However, in your capacity as CEO of MERA you modified these prerequisites to suit Mr Chimwemwe Duncalo,,the current director who does not have this qualification.”
Another irregular recruitment count is that of internal audit manager, Alex Ganizathe notwithstanding that he does not possess the prerequisite qualification for entry for the job which is the professional qualification of accountancy such as ACCA, CPA or CIMA.
It is also alleged that Chawani was promoted from her position of senior legal officer to legal manager before serving one year on the senior legal officer, contrary to MERA’s recruitment policy.
There is also another charge of nepotistic recruitment of planning and monitoring manager, Godfrey Chilenga, who is rumoured to be the nephew MP Welani Chilenga notwithstanding that there were other deserving candidates for the position.
“It was because of your position as presidential advisor to the DPP President that your party allegiance led to this recruitment just before June 23,2020 fresh presidential polls,” says Chizuma.
MERA’s senior ICT officer, Billy Kayira was also recruited without him meeting the prerequisite qualifications of the post which is Masters Degree in ICT yet Magalasi himself previously barred other officers from occupying posts which require that qualification when they didn’t posses it.
The 9th count is that of alleged fraudulent recruitment of Try Mtenje as human resources manager “just because he is a political stooge”.
“The allegation states that Mr. Mtenje had lied that he had previously worked at MRA as human resources manager, a position which requires Bachelors Degree and yet Mr. Mtenje was a customs officer and only possessed an MSCE.
“Mr. Mtenje used this lie to be employed as a graduate at MERA under your watch.”
On the abuse of benefits by Magalasi’s personal assistant, Priscilla Mkandarvire, it is alleged that the CEO approved her enjoyment of motor vehicle and fuel benefits contrary to MERA’s terms and conditions of service.
“I would, therefore, like to solicit your comprehensive response to each of the allegations above,” Chizuma says.
“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 advens for the position, the shortlisting process, the interview process and the offer as well as acceptance letters.
“As for allegation on your recruitment as CEO, I shall expect that you provide me with a submission and record of your r,whole recruitment process which shall include your application letter, interview reports and also offer and acceptance letter.
“Regarding the abuse of benefits for your personal secretary, I shall expect to be furnished with a comprehensive submission on her entitlement based on her contract and Terms and Conditions of Service.
“As for the discriminatory recruitment of the Senior ICT Officer, a full submission on his employment record and how the decision to give him the post, vis a vis his qualifications and the Recruitrnent policy will be expected. I shall expect the same in respect of the Legal Manager.
“Pursuant to section 124 of the Constitution, supporting documentation should be providcd together with your response bv 29th October,2020,” she said.