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Ombudsman declares illegal Magalasi’s and others’ recruitments at MERA

Martha Chizuma

An investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman has established that the appointment of former Chief Executive Office of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA), Collins Magalasi, was done without advertising the position therefore making it illegal and unprocedural.

While presenting findings of the investigation in Lilongwe,  Ombudsman Martha Chizuma  indicated that it was irregular for the Office of President and Cabinet to appoint Magalasi as CEO when the appointment was supposed to be done by the institution’s board.

Chizuma has since directed that if Magalasi was still in office, his employment would have been nullified and he must not get any end of term benefits from MERA.

“Whilst am aware that Dr. Magalasi did provide a service for which he was paid during the time of illegal employment,  this does not in any way regularize his employment. His appointment or initial entry was illegal,  therefore enforceable both at law and public policy,” reads part of the investigation report.

The investigation has further found that the recruitment of late Maxwell Mkumba as Director of Electricity and Renewable Energy was also irregular and has therefore been nullified.

The board has since been directed that any benefits to family members regarding the employment of the deceased, must be paid by individual board members who recruited him illegally.

Findings by the Office of Ombudsman show that Mkumba did not apply for the position and was not interviewed either.

“The board’s decision to give Mr. Mkumba a position for which he did not apply, qualify and interview for was a neglect of duty, unprocedural, unreasonable and was maladministration,” further reads the findings report.

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The Ombudsman also investigated allegations regarding the recruitment of Director for Economic Regulation, Chimwemwe Dunkalo and Director of Liquid, Fuel and Gas, Alinafe Nkavea.

The Ombudsman has found that the allegations of irregular recruitment of the two were not supported with evidence to reflect as such, hence the allegations have been dismissed.

Another complaint the Ombudsman was investigating was an allegation that  a Godfrey Chilenga was recruited just before June 23, 2020 fresh presidential polls as the current Planning and Monitoring Manager because  he is the nephew of Werani Chilenga of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Findings from the investigation shows that Pacharo Mwanza was interviewed for the same position and emerged first, with Chilenga coming second.

MERA did not source references for the successful candidate but relied on unsolicited email references from unknown sources which did not allow Mwanza to assume office as s successful candidate after interviews.

It has since been established that Godfrey Chilenga did not get the position based on his relationship to the politician (Werani Chilenga),  but on the botched recruitment process. MERA has therefore been directed to seek references of Pacharo Mwanza to verify them and if positive, an offer should be made to him as a successful candidate.

The Ombudsman has also ordered that by June this year, MERA has to advertise positions whose holdersdo not  have adequate qualifications, to pave way for deserving applicants to compete and assume office.

For Alexander Ganiza and Cynthia Chawani who were promoted to positions of Internal Auditor and Legal Services Manager respectively, the Ombudsman has ordered that they revert to their previous positions as the processes involved in their promotions were irregular.

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On her part, MERA Board Member, Phyllis Manguluti, has stated that they were expecting the report and will provide feedback accordingly as they move to make reviews on policies within MERA.

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