Illegal dismissals, transfers cost Malawi K29 billion

Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe says Malawi has lost K29 billion in two financial years due to illegal dismissals and re-deployment of government employees.

Silungwe revealed this in a letter to Vice President Saulos Chilima, Secretary to the President Zangazanga Chikhosi and principal secretaries.

According to Silungwe, for the two financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20, the total debt judgement against the state is at K29 billion.

Silungwe said this has emanated from default judgements, breach of contract, badly drafted contracts and procedural impropriety.

He noted in his letter that any person has a right to lawful and procedurally fair administrative action. The Attorney General further observed that the processes of recruitment, transfer and secondment; promotion and discipline in the public sector are carried out in accordance with the legal framework to the public service.

He advised that the Secretary to the Government is involved in secondment of principal secretaries and head of public institutions only but in all other cases it is principal secretaries who are in charge.

He noted that a practice has emerged in recent years where a public officer is informed that they have been posted to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) when they shall be assigned new responsibilities but the officer reports and do nothing.

“Illegal deployment is costly. Lately, the State has been ordered to pay over K700 million and K500 million because of illegal deployment of public officers. Fair labour practice is a paramount principle under Malawi’s labour law. The courts in Malawi have relentlessly upheld this principle,” said Silungwe.

He also described as illegal the practice where the Secretary to the OPC or Comptroller of Statutory Corporations makes an announcement of the appointment of a chief executive officer or a senior management member of a statutory corporation.

The Attorney General has since advised that the AG’s office must be involved in negotiation and execution of contracts that government through ministries and departments enters into.