President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday took a bold stance by bluntly calling for the firing of Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) management and people drafted into the public service based on political loyalty or abused office.
In what can be described as his toughest speech since winning the court-sanctioned June 23 Fresh Presidential Election, the President—flanked by Malawi Defence Force Commander General Vincent Nundwe and Malawi Police Service Inspector General George Kainja ostensibly to project
power and strength—also ordered that the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examination cancelled over leakages should be retaken by January and not March 2021. power and strength—also ordered
Specifically commenting on the MSCE examination leakage, Chakwera gave Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje one week to conclude investigations at Maneb to identify officers responsible for the leakage and discipline them.
Further, the President said: “The idea that students have to wait until March next year to take the exams or that their guardians
have to bear the cost of this failure is not an idea I find to be in the public interest.
“I am, therefore, giving the Malawi National Examinations Board until the end of this month to remove the top management of Maneb on account of this gross failure and replace it with a team that will conduct the most credible examinations Malawi has ever had, which must be done no later than January.”
Stressing on the campaign statements of “clearing the rubble” or “draining the swamp” as a promise to do business unusual, the President said those whose recruitment in the public sector did not comply with set procedures will also be removed.
He said: This [recruitment through political interference] is probably the biggest rubble we have, especially in MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] and other governance institutions.
“That is why I have been systematically assessing the controlling officers in these places to make the necessary changes.”
In his address, the President, who was joined by NyaLonje and Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) ZangaZanga Chikhosi, said he was not satisfied with the pace of his administration towards delivering on some of its pledges and acknowledged public outrage over the situation.
During the address, Chakwera also instructed Chikhosi as board chairperson of National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) to “address the anomally” of appointing deputy chief executive officer (CEO) Hellen Buluma as acting CEO. He said the public outcry against her appointment had merit as she is a known operative of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The President, visibly fired-up, also faulted the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for allegedly failing to institute any charges against public officers, both the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court
and the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal found to have broken the law in the administration of the annulled May 21 2019 presidential election.
“When I say we must clear the rubble, it is important to understand what the rubble is and who is responsible for clearing it. Essentially, clearing the rubble means four things. First and foremost, it means removing those from our State institutions who have committed criminal offences,” he said.
Here, the President said it was unfortunate that despite the findings of the courts, there was no evidence that the DPP or the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) moved to act on the officers in question.
“The office bearers responsible for clearing this kind of rubble should not imagine that we as Malawians will relent from calling for the rule of law or that we will look the other way,” he said.
Reacting to the address, Mustafa Hussein, a political analyst at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, welcomed the President’s speech with caution.
He said there was need to strike the right balance between removing deadwood and following labour laws.
Said Hussein: “My reaction is that the President should be cautious and should not be emotional. He should not be directed by public opinion and ensure regulations are followed and avoid putting the government in trouble through costly unfair dismissal which we have seen in the past. by public opinion and ensure
“Tendencies to fire public officials on political considerations can be very costly. The Makileni case has just reminded us of such danger.”
On his part, Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira yesterday said the party would be watching to ensure the directives are not aimed at victimising innocent public servants.
He said: “We hope that this will not be used as an opportunity to victimise those they perceive to be DPP members or sympathisers as has been the case so far. We also hope that they will not fill up these positions without following laid down procedures.”