- Court sets aside initial claim
- Makileni to make fresh assessment
The Industrial Relations Court (IRC) has set aside a K750 million payout order from public coffers to former Ministry of Labour Pr incipal Secretary Christopher Makileni pending a fresh assessment of the claim within 30 days.
In his ruling delivered on Monday following a challenge by the office of the Attorney General (AG), IRC deputy chairperson Howard Pemba ordered and directed that the consent orders pertaining to the payment dated July 22 and August 4 2020 be set aside.
He said the compensation claimed by Makileni—who sued government after the Peter Mutharika administration transferred him to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and later ordered him to stop working in 2014—should be assessed within 30 days from September 27 2021.
Reads the order in part: “It is further ordered and directed that the applicant [Makileni] should file his assessment bundle within seven days from the date hereof and that the respondent [the AG representing Malawi Government] shall file a response within 14 days of service on him of the assessment of the bundle.”
In an interview yesterday, AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said the State will file its response to the matter once lawyers representing Makileni have submitted their fresh assessment.
“The matter will now go for assessment. The State is ready with its case, but we don’t want to preempt the arguments we will make,” he said.
Private practice lawyer Paul Maulidi, who is representing Makileni, yesterday said the IRC judgement has taken the matter back to square one and delayed settlement of the claim by a year.
He said the assessment of the claim in the payout agreement signed after a review by OPC officials was legitimate; hence; should be honoured.
Maulidi said: “We have agreed headings that he [Makileni] will be paid the full salary for seven years. All the issues which were there will be in the agreement. We will not revise them.
“We will go by the August salary; the figures may change here or there. We have consented to that because there are certain issues which we have to take into account. Those figures were worked out by the OPC.”
The Makileni claim—which dates back to 2018—has been rocked with controversy, including a public outcry over the amount claimed and forged signature of immediate-past AG Chikosa Silungwe on one of the consent documents.
When the K750 million payout claim came to IRC for consent, court officials observed that Silungwe’s purported signature looked different; hence, they telephoned him to verify the validity of the agreement.
Silungwe is on record to have disowned the signature on the consent order, but fell short of mentioning the officer who signed it on his behalf and the reasons for the same.
According to the disuted August 4 2020 consent order, government was set to pay him K754 835 824.14 in pension, loss of use of motor vehicle, fuel and salary before tax.
In January 2021, Silungwe ’ s o f f i c e challenged the order through Chakaka Nyirenda—then working as legal counsel for the Reserve Bank of Malawi. The challenge was on the basis that the consent order was premised on misrepresentation.
The other basis for the challenge was that while Makileni had commenced the proceedings in 2015, he withdrew the same in April 2020; hence, there was no case.