In what can be described as a cat-and-mouse chase, seven district commissioners (DCs) have once again obtained injunctions stopping government from demoting them.
The chase started when former president Joyce Banda promoted them to P2 grade. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration reversed the promotions with Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Tarsizio Gowelo saying, among other things, that their positions did not exist and that there was no money to pay for their increased wages.
The DCs obtained an injunction stopping government from demoting them, government succumbed and informed them that their promotions would stand. But in a dramatic U-turn, government changed its mind and told the DCs that their demotions had actually been effected.
Now the DCs— Grace Chirwa (Chitipa), Rosemary Moyo (Karonga), Malango Botomani (Ntchisi) Funny Msimuko (Dowa), Memory Kaleso-Monteiro (Neno), Reinghard Chavula (Machinga) and James Manyetera (formerly of Chiradzulu)— have once again obtained an injunction stopping government from demoting them.
Private practice lawyer Ralph Kasambara, who was hired by Moyo, said yesterday that the action by the minister or government (to demote the DCs) was illegal and needed to be reversed.
He said: “Firstly, the minister does not have powers [to demote the DCs]; secondly, the former president [Joyce Banda] used her powers to promote them and that cannot be reversed; and thirdly, the action is against the Constitution and Public Service Act.”
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said the matter is with the Attorney General (AG).
She said: “We have asked the AG to give us direction on the matter and, until then, there is nothing to say. Let us wait for the AG’s decision.”