Ombudsman Martha Chizuma says former Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) Director General Godfrey Itaye should not receive terminal benefits because he was appointed illegally in 2015.
Chizuma has said this in a report released today titled Secure in Deception. It follows investigations into allegations of the irregular recruitment of Itaye.
Itaye while working at MACRA in 2014, was appointed Postmaster General (PMG) at Malawi Posts Corporation.
The Ombudsman found that Under Section 78 of the Communication Act (1998) the Minister of Information was mandated to appoint the PMG on recommendation from the Board but Itaye was appointed PMG by the then President Peter Mutharika through the then Chief Secretary Mr. William Samute.
The appointment was facilitated by the former Comptroller of Statutory Corporations Zangazanga Chikhosi who is now the Secretary to the President in the Lazarus Chakwera administration.
In 2015, Itaye was appointed MACRA Director General (DG). Chizuma noted that the evidence somehow shows that in 2015 Itaye was appointed DG of MACRA by the Minister on recommendation by the Board of MACRA. She, however, said the recommendation was made without subjecting Itaye to open and transparent interview process as is required by law
“The illegality of the appointment of Mr. Itaye was not only by virtue of lack of interviews but also the fact that his name was proposed by Government to the Board to recommend back to Government for final approval. This is contrary to the spirit of s19 of the Communication Act, 1998.
“Going by sequence of events, it is my further finding that Mr. Godfrey Itaye 2015 appointment as DG of MACRA was not only illegal but was also irregular and a mockery to public service recruitment process,” she said.
According to Chizuma, the MACRA Board was informed of the disapproval of the appointment of Mr. Andrew Kumbatira as DG of MACRA by the Minister on 10th August 2015. On the same 10th August, 2015 the position of the DG of MACRA was declared vacant.
On the same day, the Board was informed that Government was proposing the name of Mr. Godfrey Itaye as DG. On the same 10th August 2015 the Board deliberated on the experience and record of Mr. Itaye and resolved to recommend Mr. Itaye to the Minister.
On the same day the Board wrote the Minister of Information recommending appointment of Mr. Itaye. On the same day the Minister approved and on the same day the PS of Information who going by the minutes was actually at the same meeting wrote the Board informing them of the Minister’s approval of the appointment of Mr. Itaye.
“Unless it can be proved that 10th August 2015 had more than 24 hours or that on this day there was a miracle of Joshua 10 v 13 , the fact is, it is clear that even with the highest efficiency which is not there in the first place in our public bodies, there is no way all these processes could have happened in just one day. The only explanation could be that some of the letters were already written and that the Board was simply rubber stamping that which had already been set. The whole process was a mockery,” said Chizuma.
Last year, Itaye was moved from MACRA to Malawi Posts Corporation as PMG while the PMG Mr. Henry Shamu was transferred from MPC to MACRA.
At the time, Itaye was serving a MACRA effective 31st January 2020 to 30th January, 2022. When Shamu went to MACRA, he was given a new contract by the board though Itaye’s contract was yet to be terminated.
Chizuma noted that Itaye remains an employee of MACRA at the position of DG. The Ombudsman has since terminated his contract due to the illegality of his recruitment.
“I direct the Board to effect the nullification immediately and to give me evidence of the same by 30th May, 2021.
“I am aware that in all these contracts Mr. Itaye did provide a service for which he was paid. That however does not in any way regularize his appointments or so-called redeployments. They remain void through and through and in the realm of unauthorized adventure,” said Chizuma.
She has also directed the Board not pay Mr. Itaye his terminal benefits if any under the 2016 to 2019 contract. According to Chizuma, if such terminal benefits were already paid the Board should claim the same from Mr. Itaye.
She said: “Any claim that Mr. Itaye may have in as far as the above two allegations are concerned cannot lie to MACRA but to individual public officers who were solely responsible for his illegal, irregular and suspicious appointments and redeployments. No tax payers’ money belonging to Malawians should be used to settle any such claims.”