Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe has disowned a signature that approved payment of a suspicious K750 million compensation to former Local Government principal secretary (PS) Christopher Makileni for alleged unlawful dismissal.
The move has triggered calls for the AG to institute investigations to bring to book those behind the questionable signature, which critics say would have defrauded government.
Silungwe purportedly signed a consent agreement with Makileni, amounting to K754 million, including K200 million for vehicle replacement and K54 million for fuel.
This prompted immediate public backlash amid suspicions that the figure was ballooned beyond what the former PS would have received in the stipulated time he was unemployed.
The Office of the President and Cabinet, which allegedly committed to pay the sum, promised to legally challenge the matter as it did not approve the payment.
Silungwe’s objection to the signature is contained in an application his office filed at the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) on Wednesday, which seeks to move the court to set aside the consent order.
“When the consent order, dated August 4 was presented to court for endorsement, there purported to be the Attorney General’s signature when, in fact, the Attorney General never put his signature on the said consent order.
“Therefore, the consent order was executed through misrepresentation to the court that the consent order contained the signature of the Attorney General,” reads, in part, the application dated 20 January 2021.
Asked about what action his office has taken to establish how the consent order was signed, Silungwe said: “That issue is being argued by Mr Thabo (Chakaka) Nyirenda. Please talk to him.”
When contacted, Nyirenda said he would not comment on the substantial matter as he is not the government nor the Ministry of Justice spokesperson.
“My duty, for now, is to challenge the consent order,” he said.
In 2015, Makileni commenced proceedings against the AG at IRC, claiming that he had been constructively dismissed by the Democratic Progressive Party administration. He wanted compensation for four years.
But Makileni withdrew the case last April and in the application, aimed at setting aside the consent order, the AG uses the withdrawal as justification.
“Following withdrawal of the case, there existed no other case for which a consent order could have been signed and endorsed by the court,” the AG’s application reads, in part.
The AG also argues that Makileni was still on the government payroll, enjoying benefits such as fuel, official car and other benefits; hence his decision to reverse the consent order which was purportedly signed by Makileni and the AG last July.
“The consent order was executed under the belief that Makileni was no longer receiving his salary and benefits from the Malawi Government when, in fact, he was still on government payroll enjoying salaries and benefits,” further argued the AG in the application.
Meanwhile, Makileni’s lawyer Paul Maulidi insists the consent order still stands as it was signed by “both the former and current AG”.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Gift Trapence has asked government to investigate the controversy surrounding approval of the consent order.
“We need to know what happened. Let those that committed crimes, if any, be brought to book. Again, there is a need to review the communication system to ensure that there’s order in the way such serious matters are handled,” he said.