The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has asked MRA to replace 127 newly-recruited customs and revenue officers after investigations uncovered that there was swapping of successful candidates with those that did not qualify.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba during a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday said the bureau conducted a four-month investigation into the recruitment following complaints of unfair recruitment in the process which prompted the bureau to issue a restriction order in April against the officers recruitment.
He said according to their findings, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) interviewed 487 candidates and selected 125. The 125 names were then sent to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) for vetting.
But while NIS was still vetting the list, MRA went ahead to offer jobs to the 125 people, swapping 71 candidates with others who had attended the interviews but failed to make the grade.
Said Matemba: “Out of the 125 candidates, 71 names were not on the list of successful candidates. The main finding is that 71 candidates did not qualify for the jobs. Their grades were below standard and they found their way on the second list without merit.”
The ACB director said when whistleblowers alerted the bureau, they issued the recruitment restriction order on the former MRA commissioner general.
Matemba added that the bureau found the role NIS played illegal as the posts in question did not require its vetting.
He said: “Customs and revenue posts are not supposed to be vetted by NIS. The NIS Act defines posts which are vettable. People who access classified information are the ones who are supposed to be vetted. Classified information is defined by law as sensitive information that may have impact on State security.”
Matemba, flanked by ACB deputy director general Elijah Bodole and director of investigations Dan Mponda, said the bureau did not find any evidence of politicians influencing the process but evidence indicates that among those that benefited from the fraudulent recruitment were relatives of the ousted Democratic Progressive Party government officials and senior MRA managers.
He said one of the 75 candidates (name withheld) whose name was on the disputed list went to court to obtain an injunction against the restriction order though he failed the interviews.
Said Matemba: “Even if MRA were to recruit 400 candidates, the candidate’s grade would not have warranted him to be on the successful list because he was number 445. But this is what happens when arrogance reaches intoxication levels. Whoever complained to ACB has done a favour to the other candidates.”
The ACB director said the bureau has since made administrative and legal recommendations, including that MRA should recruit only those candidates that made it on the list of 125 candidates on merit and that the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) should ensure that such mess does not happen again in future.
The anti-graft body has since submitted the recommendations to MRA, OPC and other government departments.
Matemba also said ACB is “closing in” on two senior MRA officers who were negligent and breached procedural requirements, abused their offices and may have committed other crimes in the process. He also hinted at imminent arrests.
According to the bureau, 533 candidates were invited for interviews but only 437 attended the interviews out of which 125 were successful.