The Industrial Relations Court (IRC) has ordered government to pay a principal secretary (PS) K754 million after he sued and alleged political victimisation’.
The court, by consent order between Christopher Makileni and the Attorney General (AG), entered on August 2020, has ordered government to pay him K754 835 824.14 in pension, loss of use of motor vehicle, fuel and salary before tax.
According to his lawyer Paul Maulidi, almost immediately the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came into power with Peter Mutharika as President, government ordered Makileni to stop working.
The lawyer disclosed that his client was accused of being a sympathiser of Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP).
Said Maulidi: “He was never retired or fired, but someone just told him to stop working. They accused him of being PP.” He said his client took the matter to court in 2015, but later they agreed to an out-of-court settlement which resulted in this consent order.
“We’ve this consent order, but as usual, we’re struggling to get the payment,” Maulidi said.
Janet Banda, Deputy Chief Secretary for President and Cabinet, yesterday said government has asked the Attorney General to withdraw the settlement.
Said Banda: “We are aware of this matter and the Honourable Attorney General has been served. We have requested the Attorney General to impeach the consent order for fraud and misrepresentation as it was signed in a rush and without the authority of the new SPC in August though he was in office.”
She added that government was confident “the Hon AG will handle this matter prudently as it involves taxpayers’ money which should be protected where necessary.”
Silungwe, on his part, confirmed signing the agreement but said the negotiations over the settlement was already completed when he came into office.
He said: “The signature is mine and the date shows in August 2020, but it’s a long standing case, negotiations with relevant stakeholders started in 2018. Litigation for what it is, the name will say that AG, but negotiations started in 2018, find out what PSs get from government. The public officer decided to go on an early retirement.”
But Silungwe refused to commit whether by signing the agreement he conceded that the terms were correct.
“You haven’t seen the minutes, sir. As a lawyer I don’t create facts, if someone wants us to vary the order, they can ask us to do so. I was not in the room in the first place. How do I review matters I never negotiated? I will insist you must talk to OPC. The facts to that case talk to OPC, I will insist,” he said.
The development comes high on the heels of a warning by the Attorney General that government is losing billions to payments for contractual disputes.
Just within two years, government had lost a whooping K29 billion in illegal dismissals, poorly drafted contracts, transfers and redeployment of heads of ministries, departments and agencies, a leaked assessment by the Attorney General revealed.
Makileni, according to the court order, cut home over K216 million in pension, over K205 million for loss of use of motor vehicle, over K269 million for salary before tax and K63 million for fuel.