Former witness in the presidential elections case Richard Chapweteka told the Ombudsman that State House promised him the role of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) chief executive officer.
This is revealed in a leaked Ombudsman investigation report in the matter of the alleged unprocedural and irregular recruitment of Henry Kachaje as MERA CEO.
The report was expected to be released yesterday but Ombudsman Grace Malera was served with an injunction stopping her from presenting it.
Investigation into Kachaje’s appointment commenced following two complaints, one of which was from Chapweteka who was among eight candidates interviewed for the MERA role.
Chapweteka alleged that he suffered injustice in the manner in which the MERA board conducted the recruitment process for the position of CEO. He complained that he was deliberately given low marks despite performing well during the interviews as the board was under the impression that he was an anointed candidate. He also claimed that the person who emerged successful, Kachaje, was not a holder of a master’s degree.
However, the report shows that Chapweteka had been canvassing and was promised the job by State House.
“I further enquired from Mr. Chapweteka as to who had made a promise to him regarding the MERA CEO position, he informed the Inquiry that the State House made the promise. He further stated that he never proceeded to confirm with the President as to the authenticity of this promise as he did not think it was that important,” reads part of the leaked report signed by Ombudsman Grace Malera.
The report also revealed that Chapweteka tried to indirectly contact the MERA board chairperson after being invited for interviews.
MERA board Chairperson Leonard Chikadya told the inquiry that he was forwarded a WhatsApp from the Minister of Finance Mr. Felix Mlusu which the said Minister had received from Mr. Chapweteka.
The message stated: “Good Morning Honourable Minister, I have been invited for an interview for MERA CEO position on 29th April next week, it is probably the best time for you to speak to Mr. Chikadya on why I really need this job. I fully qualify for this job and I am working hard to prepare for this interview.”
Chapweteka confirmed that he did indeed send the message to Honourable Mlusu. He stated that his motive for sending the message to Honourable Mlusu was that he qualified for the position and he was working hard to prepare for the interviews, as such this was for Mlusu’s attention and noting.
“He further stated that he wrote to Honourable Mlusu in particular because Honourable Mlusu and the Chairperson are personal friends. He denied that he did this in order to influence the Chairperson,” the report says.
After interviews, Chapweteka continued to discuss the job with at least two members of the interview panel before results had been released.
Mr. Chapweteka stated that after the interviews he did call MERA Director Chiwambo of MERA who did not respond to his call but he sent him a message and informed him that he did well in the interviews but he did not inform him of which position he was in the interview.
“Mr. Chapweteka stated that he called Mr. Chiwambo because he is his friend and because he wanted to get some information about the interviews,” the report says.
Chapweteka also stated that he called Mr. Likongwe twice to get information about the interview results and Mr. Likongwe had informed him that he did not know anything yet.
He further confirmed that he sent Mr. Likongwe WhatsApp messages asking him the likely outcome of the interview results, in particular whether he was in or not.
“He further confirmed that he sent Mr. Likongwe a WhatsApp message telling him that Mr. Henry Kachaje does not have a Master’s Degree, he did so because Mr. Likongwe is a Board member and the message was for his information. He denied that he sent the message in order to influence Mr. Likongwe so that Mr. Kachaje is not employed. He further denied that he was interfering with the recruitment process in sending the various messages to Mr. Likongwe,” the report says.
In analyzing the evidence, Ombudsman Malera concluded that Chapweteka’s conduct borders on canvassing.
“This was inappropriate and unethical to say the least on the part of the 1st Complainant, as it appears from the evidence that he preoccupied himself with trying to meddle with the process of the interviews. While he denied that he was trying to influence the outcome of the interviews in his favour, it can safely be deduced from his conduct that he had actually intended to exert some influence over the process,” said Malera.
On Chapweteka’s claims that the Board had agreed to score him lowly, Malera said the evidence indicate that he did not receive uniform low scores from the Board Members. He was accorded a highest score of 92 by one Board Member and a low score of 59 by another Board Member, in between the other Board Members accorded him scores of 65, 66, 78.5 and 80, respectively.
Malera added that there is no evidence to substantiate the claim by Chapweteka that he was treated unfairly by the Board of MERA.
The MERA interviews were conducted in April this year, before President Lazarus Chakwera, in June, appointed Chapweteka as a commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission.
Chapweteka was one of the key witnesses for Chakwera in the 2019 elections case in which the results of 2019 presidential elections were nullified. Chakwera went on to win the fresh presidential elections.
One of Chakwera’s witnesses in the case, Daud Suleman, is currently the Director General of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority while another, Anthony Bendulo, is Director of Innovation Science and Technology in the Office of President and Cabinet.