At least 20 former employees of the United States of America (USA) government have written the office of the Attorney General (AG) complaining what they describe as “unfair and unjustified dismissal,” while requesting the AG to intervene on the matter.
The disgruntled employees served the US government in various capacities at the United States Agency for International Development (USaid), the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) as well as at the US Embassy in Malawi.
The petition, which Nation on Sunday has seen, is dated June 1 2021 and has been duly signed by the complainants.
In an interview on Friday, AG Chikosa Silungwe confirmed receiving the petition, and said Malawi government will now engage the US government on the matter, going forward.
He said: “Yes, we got the petition and [Malawi] government will engage the government of United States, through Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that’s what will happen. Then, we will also get the side of the employer since we only have one side of the story.”
Nation on Sunday has learnt that the dismissals were effected in 2015, soon after the commencement of the tenure of former US Ambassador Virginia Palmer.
Reads the former workers’ petition, in part: “We find the reasons for termination of our services to be unfair and unjustified and this is the reason we are petitioning your office to intervene, if possible. We would like to state that the employer did not give valid reasons for terminating our services.”
The employees also argue, in the petition, that their dismissals were based on allegations that were unfounded, and could not be substantiated in most cases.
Adds the petitioners: “And our side of the story was never taken into consideration. We are ready to provide details and particulars of our story once your honourable office grants us an audience.”
In an interview on Friday, a representative of the group Howard Useni, who worked as a motor vehicle mechanic for US Embassy in Lilongwe for 24 years (1994-2018), vowed that the group will not tire its fight against the injustice inflicted on them.
He said their wish is for the US government to pay them their salaries up to retirement age as compensation.
According to Useni, their efforts to seek redress through lawyers and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not yielded desired results hence the decision to resort to the office of government’s top-most lawyer.
Reacting to the concerns raised in the petition, the US Embassy in Lilongwe, through the public diplomacy section (PDS), said in a written response that it is a policy of its mission to provide equal opportunity and fair and equitable treatment in employment to all its employees.
“We are not able to comment on personnel matters. However, it is the policy of the US Mission to provide equal opportunity and fair and equitable treatment in employment to all of our employees without regard to race, colour, religion, sex, including sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation, marital status, or sexual orientation.”