Ombudsman sends Macra's illegal employees packing

Ombudsman, Macra

The Office of Ombudsman has nullified Godfrey Itaye’s employment as Director General of Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) saying it was not legal and a mistake.

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma announced her office had nullified Itaye’s employment in Lilongwe through a report titled ‘Secure in Deception’.

“I therefore nullify all these contracts including the one in which he is currently serving effective from 31st January 2020 to 30th of January 2022 immediately, I direct the board to effect the nullification immediately and to give me evidence of the same by 30th of May 2021,” Chizuma said.

The Ombudsman has further directed the board not to pay Itaye his terminal benefits if any under the 2016, 2019 contracts and that if such terminal benefits were already paid, they should be claimed.

Chizuma’s report was in response to complaints alleging Itaye abused his office through irregular recruitments and that he himself was irregularly employed.

According to the report Itaye was put on the position by then president Peter Mutharika in September 2014 and it has transpired then controller of statutory bodies Zangazanga Chikhosi, now Secretary to President and Cabinet in Lazarus Chakwera government facilitated the other formalities of the appointment.

“Since the law did not provide a grant for interviews and Malawi Post Corporation being a public body is bound by the public service act and bound to identify that person to be recommended as Sports master general by way of interviews in accordance to section four of the public service act.

“…it is my further finding that Mr Godfrey Itaye’s 2015 appointment as director general of Macra was not only illegal but also irregular and a mockery to the public service recruitment process,” said Chizuma.                                           

She cleared Director of Broadcasting Fergus Lipenga saying allegations levelled him that he was given a new contract because he is from Thyolo, a Democratic Progressive Party (Party) sympathiser and related to Ben Phiri who also influenced the granting of a new contract together with honorable Dausi, did not stand.

She said Lipenga had the right qualifications and that there was not substantial evidence to support the claims.

Among others that were irregularly recruited and have been consequently fired included Phyllis Malulu, Benson Tembo, Timothy Sukali, Ruth Mgwede Ndala and Charles Fodya.

On the allegation Itaye changed names when getting employment at MACRA to conceal his criminal conviction at National Bank of Malawi, Chizuma cleared him saying there is clearly is no evidence that supports this assertion. 

Another former MACRA DG, Henry Shamu has also been told his employment contracts at Malawi Post Corporation and MACRA are nullified right from start and that he should not be paid any end of Term Benefits and if the same have already been paid they should be reclaimed. 

Chizuma has also ordered the post of Administrator which MacDonald Phoya be filled by 30th July 2021 because Phoya did not have a Bachelor in Administration, rather Bachelor in Education.

Tembo appointment as Technical Advisor of Digital Migration has been rendered was illegal and irregular. 

"His subsequent renewals of employment contracts were not only irregular but also seriously breached the law. The position of Technical Advisor of Digital Migration does not exist on MACRA establishment. This means that all the employment contracts he has been granted from January 2015 to date are null and void. His entry into and continued granting of services to MACRA for the past 8 years remains an exercise in the realm of unauthorised adventure."

The Board has been ordered to review the functions of Digital Migration and 
all the services that were being provided by Dr. Tembo to establish if indeed the formal establishment of this position is required. 

"If the justification for this position is established and formalised then MACRA should recruit for this position in accordance with its legal and policy framework. This should be done by 31st July, 2021," she said.