- Govt demands updated employment records, staff returns
The Department of Human Resources Management and Development has asked all government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to submit updated employment records and staff returns to update its database.
The Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) has since commended the move, while political analysts have described it as a clean-up of the civil service to remove undeserving civil servants recruited by the ousted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In a letter dated July 16 addressed to controlling officers, heads of departments and district commissioners (DCs), Secretary for Human Resource Management and Development Hilary Chimota demands that the MDAs should submit General Purpose (GP) 1 forms, letters of employment on probation, offer letters in absence of letters of appointment on probation, copies of confirmation letters and copies of promotion letters by August 7.
Reads the statement in part: “The Department of Human Resource Management and Development [DHRMD] is in the process of updating its records for its staff in the human resource management and secretarial common services.
“In view of the above, I write to request that all ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs] should prepare an updated staff return for all staff in the human resource and secretarial common services attached hereto.”
The letter further asks the MDAs to submit copies of officers educational qualifications, copies of letter of transfers between posts if any and copies of letters of connection of service where applicable.
In a telephone interview on Sunday, Chimota said this is an annual activity which takes place at the beginning of every financial year.
He said: “We do it at the beginning of every financial year, so it is an annual activity where we ask those in the common service to give such information so that we compare with our records.”
But reacting to the development, CSTU general secretary Madalitso Njolomole, described the move as commendable, saying MDAs have been failing to provide updated staff returns and employment records annually.
He said: “Our serious recommendation, however, is that the DHRMD should visit individual files and seek the required information. If they do not find it, then they should contact the officer.”
The request comes two weeks after Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, during a meeting with parastatal heads asked performance reports that were due for submission on Friday.
Meanwhile, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political science lecturer Ernest Thindwa has said the initiative may be motivated by the need to clean up the civil service, especially those recruited under the DPP regime without proper laid down procedures and proper qualifications.
He said: “During the DPP reign, there was recruitment of perceived ruling party loyalists in strategic positions in the public service at the expense of career civil servants, which partly explains a dysfunctional public service.”
Thindwa said time has come to revisit institutional set ups and arrangements to ensure the public service is insulated from manipulation from the political class.
He said there is need for clear incentives for promoting professionalism and to make it costly for individuals who ignore public service ethos and professionalism if the country is to embark on a serious rebuilding project.
On his part, political commentator Humphrey Mvula, said: “Given the invasion of the public service with political appointments, it is only fair to asses every employee’s suitability for positions they hold.”
During a meeting with parastatal heads from the Central Region in Lilongwe two weeks ago, Chilima said the performance reports he requested will feed into the planning process of the 2020/21 National Budget, after which his office will look at the country’s long-term development plan.
In October and November 2015, government embarked on an exercise to delete ghost workers by a headcount and payroll audits conducted by the National Audit Office (NAO). The ghost workers were inflating government’s wage bill.
However, an audit undertaken by NAO in August 2017 found that ghost workers were still common in ministries of Health, Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Education, Science and Technology and Natural Resources and Mining.
The same year in December, the DHRMD indicated that it had embarked on a pilot photo image capturing for government employees to trace ghost workers in the civil service.