15 November 2016 Last updated at: 10:25 AM
Chaos at the Department of Information: Officers demanding fair treatment
Relations are not cordial between Information Officers in the Government’s Department of Information Communication and Technology, and the Southern Region Headquarters leadership as the Junior Officers recently took their bosses to task on what they term “overlooked grievances”.
Evidence shows that there are a number of issues that the Information Officers are concerned about within the Ministry, among them non-payment of electricity bills in some District Information Offices which has led to some workers failing to fully deliver for over four months due to power disconnections in their work places.
According to our sources, the cat-and-mice relationship which started to exist on Thursday, November 3 imaged from an insiders’ Whatsapp Forum post by Assistant Information Officer for Mulanje district, Samuel Majamanda who raised his concerns over a lengthy black out at the Mulanje Office which has seen three Officers working in the district seeking computer and internet services from other people’s offices and internet cafes in order to appear as if they were working.
Writing on the Department’s Official Whatsapp forum Majamanda indicated that his District Office would soon be clocking four months of total black out due to an ESCOM disconnection as the office owes the power suppliers an accumulative bill of slightly around K29, 000.
“Tomorrow (Friday, November 4) also marks my 122 boring days of no serious work and involuntary lethargy; a thing that does not actually make me happy because I do not consider myself a freeloader who survives on government’s monthly payments for doing absolutely nothing at all over these past four months because, put in general terms that’s stealing from my government,” wrote Majamanda on the Department’s Whatsapp Forum, adding that whatever he had raised were his personal views.
Responding to questions and comments from fellow information officers who quickly got upset and began to list their problems against management too, Majamanda said there had been several phone calls and e-mails between the Mulanje Office and the Regional Headquarters concerning the electricity issue even before they were disconnected, but all that management said was that the issues were noted.
The revelation angered some even senior members in the department who questioned the Regional Information Officer (RIO) George Pemba (present on the group) to explain why Mulanje District was neglected to live in a black out for a longer period while they were all sure that the Region receives funding to address such problems.
After hours and hours of waiting for the RIO to respond (a thing which he did not do) some members were surprised when they started receiving phone calls from the Regional Headquarters directed at silencing them on the comments they made to Majamanda’s post.
Efforts to speak to both the Regional Information Officer and Majamanda proved futile as the RIO’s phone went unanswered while the latter had switched his phones off for a number of days.
However commenting on condition of anonymity, one Information Officer at Malawi News Agency Headquarters in Lilongwe sympathized with her workmates in Mulanje, saying having four to five months of total black out in an office was the worst thing she would expect to see in a civil service which is going through a reformation process.
Said she, “it is sad to note that our friends in the ministry are facing such hurdles: and it’s not only that. I have gone to their office twice or thrice and I can assure you that there is nothing desirable about it, and yet we say we are going through reforms.”
The anonymous Officer further attributed the problem to the fact that the department of Information is not devolved like many other government departments are.
Meanwhile inside sources indicate that between senior officers at the Southern Region Headquarters there is a conspiracy aimed at “severely punishing all Information Officers who commented on the matter” starting with the one who ignited the fire.
-Report by Sonia Chilima
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