Ombudsman Martha Chizuma says appointment of Dr. Collins Magalasi as Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) chief executive officer was illegal.
Chizuma said this today when she presented her report titled Institutional Anarchy which is an investigation report in the matter of alleged procedural recruitment of Magalasi, improper and irregular recruitment of other members of staff and other acts of maladministration at MERA
Magalasi was appointed as MERA boss in 2017 by the then president Peter Mutharika. The appointment came after Magalasi had served as Mutharika’s advisor.
During investigation, Magalasi told Chizuma that he got letter of appointment at MERA after conversations with George Mkondiwa who was at the time Secretary to the President and Cabinet.
Chizuma in the report faulted Mutharika’s appointment of Magalasi without advertising the position and allowing for fair and open competition.
She added that Magalasi ought to have known that his employment was illegal hence, whilst he provided a service for the period of his contract, the whole exercise remained in the realm of an unauthorised adventure.
Magalasi’s term at MERA has since expired but Chizuma says his contract at MERA should be treated as a nullity right from start
“I therefore, direct the Board to treat Dr. Collins Magalasi contract as a nullity right from start. Accordingly, the Board should not pay him any end of Term Benefits and if the same have already been paid they should be reclaimed. If Mr. Magalasi would like to pursue any claim regarding this, then the same cannot lie against MERA but personally with the President that illegally appointed him,” said Chizuma.
In the report, Magalasi has also been faulted for appointing in Godfrey Chilenga last year as Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager while he came second in interviews.
The person who came first, Pacharo Mwanza, was apparently overlooked because Magalasi reportedly received a tip-off that Mwanza leaks information using fake social media accounts.
After receiving the tip-off, MERA did not source references for the successful candidate for the position.
Chizuma faulted MERA for relying on unsolicited email reference from unknown sources without verifying the authenticity of the same and balancing with other possible references.
She said: “MERA should seek references for Mr. Pacharo Mwanza including his current employers as they ought to have done before, to verify the bad reference. If the references are positive, then an offer should be made to the successful candidate
Mr. Pacharo Mwanza. If otherwise, then Mr. Chilenga should be maintained on the position.