There are reports that State House has ordered the new board of Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) to retain Henry Kachaje as chief executive officer despite being unqualified for the position.
President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday appointed new board members for MERA to replace the board members who were fired last month over their involvement in the controversial hiring of Kachaje.
However, despite State House appearing to take a stand against the irregular recruitment of Kachaje, reports indicate that the new board has been told to retain Kachaje as MERA boss.
Kachaje was hired as CEO by MERA last year after the post was advertised and interviews conducted.
But a report by the Ombudsman released in November last year revealed that Kachaje did not satisfy all requirements for the post. The report faulted MERA board for hiring Kachaje to a position that requires a master’s degree when Kachaje had no master’s degree at the time he was being offered the job.
It was also revealed that after he was offered the job, Kachaje presented a master’s degree from Azteca University, a Mexican University which is considered as a Jerusalem (bogus) university where students can buy a qualification.
In the report, Ombudsman Grace Malera declared that the recruitment of Kachaje was unprocedural, irregular and illegal in that it breached the principles of fairness and legality in the exercise of powers and duties vested upon public bodies.
Malera then directed the Board of MERA to formally withdraw the purported employment contract for Kachaje, including associated emoluments and attendant benefits
MERA board obtained an injunction which restrained the Ombudsman from formally releasing the report. Efforts by the Ombudsman to vacate the injunction and discharge permission for judicial review failed in December.
The board which recruited Kachaje was fired by President Chakwera last month. It was led by Leonard Chikadya and members included Innocencia Chirombo and Phyllis Manguluti. Counsel Pempho Likongwe also used to be a member of the board but he resigned last year after the Kachaje report was released.
The new MERA board is chaired by Reckford Kampanje while Innocencia Chirombo who has been retained is vice chairperson. Members include Lameck Nchembe and Ulemu Kambwiri. Secretary for Energy, Director of Energy and MERA chief executive officer are ex-officios.