Ten months after Nkhotakota district commissioner (DC) Felix Mkandawire was sent on a forced leave, government has interdicted him over accusations of financial mismanagement and negligence of duty.
Ironically, the beleaguered DC, through his lawyer, has dragged the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to court, alleging that “Mkandawire has been treated unfairly” throughout the period he has been on forced leave.
In May last year, government suspended Mkandawire for three months for allegedly mismanaging development funds. But in August, the leave was extended by another three months to pave the way for further investigations.
A letter dated February 21 2019 reference no. LG/PF/2890 addressed to Mkandawire and signed by the ministry’s principal secretary Charles Kalemba, says the decision was reached following recommendations by the central internal audit report (CIA).
The letter says, the ministry views issues raised by the report, which was reportedly shared with the DC, as serious acts of misconduct committed by the controlling officer; hence; a forensic audit ought to be conducted.
“The minister has directed that you should be interdicted from exercising powers and functions of your post as district commissioner with full pay with immediate effect,” reads the letter in part, citing Section 6 (a) (2) of the Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2010.
When contacted for comment on Thursday, Mkandawire, who has served as Nkhotakota DC since 2015, referred Weekend Nation to his legal counsel, saying he speaks on his behalf on official issues.
“I cannot comment anything regarding the matter. Alternatively, contact my legal counsel because all matters on official issues are handled by him,” he said.
Confirming receipt of the letter of interdiction, lawyer Emmanuel Mbulo argued that government has treated his client unfairly. He said they have since dragged the State to court to hear the matter.
In the documents seen by Weekend Nation, Mkandawire alleges that the ministry has denied him a chance to defend himself on the allegations of financial mismanagement as raised by the CIA report.
“Upon reading the letter of interdiction, the claimant was surprised to learn that the defendants instructed the Central Internal Audit to conduct investigations without him being invited to give his side of the story on the allegations levelled against him,” reads the document.
But when asked, Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said the ministry was yet to be served with court summons from the claimant. Mughogho could not be drawn to react to allegations levelled against the ministry.
Meanwhile, the ministry has replaced Mkandawire with Dr Medson Matchaya.