Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has endorsed the promotion of district commissioners (DCs) during former president Joyce Banda’s reign, two years after running court battles with the affected officers.
In a letter dated August 2 2016, government upheld promotions for 14 DCs comprising six to P2 and eight to P3 alongside two directors based at the ministry’s headquarters. All of them received their letters during the first week of August, according to our sources.
In one of the letters to the DCs dated August 2, 2016 with the subject Promotion to Grade D, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Principal Secretary Stuart Ligomeka said government has upheld the decision to promote the DCs to grade D (P2) in the ministry with effect from April 11 2014.
“Following this decision, you will be required to of Local Government in any post of equivalent Grade D salary scale segment or as government may direct depending on exigencies of our services,” reads part of the letter which The Nation has seen.serve under the Ministry
In December 2012, Banda, fondly called JB by her supporters, promoted 21 DCs to P3 grade after 16 of them issued a petition requesting her intervention to implement a 2005 Functional Review which elevated DCs’ civil service grade from grade F/S5 to grade E/S3.
Prior to the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, the former president also promoted another crop of 15 DCs and two directors at the ministry’s headquarters to grades D/S2 and some to grades E/S3.
But the cat-and-mouse chase between the DCs and government started when the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nullified the promotions in August 2014.
Among others, government argued that the positions did not exist and that Treasury had no funds to service their increased wages.
The development forced seven of the DCs to challenge the nullification of their promotions and the High Court in Blantyre threw out the ministry’s preliminary objections.
The seven included Grace Chirwa (Chitipa), Rosemary Moyo (Karonga), Malango Botomani (Ntchisi), Fanny Msimuko (Dowa), Memory Kaleso-Monteiro (Neno), Reinghard Chavula (Machinga) and James Manyetera now in Mangochi.
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho also confirmed the promotions in an interview, saying all the affected officers have received their letters When the DCs obtained an injunction, government succumbed and informed them that their promotions would stand, but in a dramatic U-turn, it changed its position, saying their demotions had actually been effected.
This resulted in the DCs once again obtaining another injunction, stopping government from effecting the demotion.
Then in November 2014, the ministry reversed its decision, pending a decision to be made by the then minister Trasizio Gowelo after it asked Attorney General (AG) to give direction.