Government has reinstated all 27 district commissioners (DCs) and seven chief executive officers (CEOs) interdicted in February this year to pave the way for an investigative audit on how K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds were used.
Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Anjoya Mwanza and Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) acting executive director Hadrod Mkandawire confirmed the development yesterday in separate interviews.
Mwanza said the ministry has since written all controlling officers to resume work.
He said: “I can confirm that all DCs and CEOs have been reinstated. We got a letter from the Office of President and Cabinet [OPC] on the same, and as a ministry, we have written another letter to all the controlling officers to resume work immediately.”
On his part, Mkandawire said the reinstatement was a win for labour rights since the audit had cleared almost 14 DCs and that their continued interdictions were wrong.
By yesterday, he said he had spoken to 19 DCs who confirmed having received their letters of reinstatement.
Said Mkandawire: “We are excited by the decision because it has been our long time call, so much so that we even wrote government on the same. The audit report cleared almost 14 of them, even the Public Accounts Committee cleared a number of them.
“We were surprised that there was complete silence on the future of these controlling officers from the central government. We are happy that labour rights and rule of law have won.”
He said those with cases in relation to the Covid-19 audit report will still answer the cases while working.
“The communication is that those accused of something in relation to the Covid-19 money will still be working. The cases will be dealt with individually as they continue to work,” added Mkandawire.
Blantyre DC Bennet Nkasala in an interview yesterday confirmed receiving the reinstatement letter.
He said: “I am actually on my way from Lilongwe from getting the letter, so I can confirm that I have received it and will be resuming work. It’s good to be back, and I will start from where I left in helping government to develop the country.”
On his part, Lilongwe City Council CEO John Chome said he would be collecting his letter today.
“I will be going to Local Government Ministry on Friday, but I know others that have been given the letter,” he said.
His Mzuzu City Council counterpart Gomezgani Nyasulu also said he was yet to get the letter.
“Practice demands that we travel to Lilongwe to meet the Principal Secretary and as an individual you are accorded a one on one meeting. I have some challenges travelling to Lilongwe, but I have heard of the reinstatement,” he said.
Nkhata Bay DC Rodney Simwaka also said he was yet to get the letter.
The 34 were interdicted following President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive on February 14, through Secretary to the President and Cabinet ZangaZanga Chikhosi, for appearing before the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 without backing documents for their expenditure reports.
The interdictions, which also affected personnel from other government ministries, departments and agencies, were meant to pave the way for an independent audit of the K6.2 billion allocated to the national Covid-19 response between September and December 2020. Councils received K1.3 billion, while the rest was distributed to other clusters.
Efforts to seek clarity from government proved futile as Chikhosi could not be reached for comment yesterday.