The family of Malawi’s founding president the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda has made a fresh appeal to government for his retirement package, two years after an earlier communication did not yield a response.
The family through lawyer, Ralph Mhone, confirmed in an interview on Monday they are yet to get a response from government after sending a notice to the office of the Attorney General (AG).
Mhone, who sent a notice to the two previous AGs Ralph Kasambara and Anthony Kamanga between 2012 and 2013, but did not get a response, said he sent a similar notice to incumbent AG Kalekeni Kaphale and he is yet to get a response.
Said Mhone: “As per the norm, whenever there is a new office bearer [in the office of the AG], we are supposed to write him/her on all outstanding cases and I wrote the new AG around August notifying him of all outstanding cases, including the claim for benefits one and seeking for a way forward, but up to now I have not gotten any response.”
In an interview yesterday, Kaphale said he is yet to get the notice of claim from Kamuzu’s family.
He said he looks at every communication that passes through his desk, but does not recall having seen anything relating to Kamuzu’s benefits.
The notice in question, dated October 24 2014 with reference RAI/C/183, had the heading: Claim for benefits: Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (Deceased).
The notice of claim said that since Kamuzu left office in 1994, after having ruled the country from 1964, he was never paid any benefits for his service to the nation or for recognition as a retired head of State.
Reads the notice of claim: “We, therefore, claim for gratuity, monthly pension, benefits and facilities as provided under Section 4 (1) (c) of the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act [and Part 111 of the Schedule of the Act] Cap 2:02 of the Laws of Malawi. Your due attention to this matter will be highly appreciated.”
Section 4 (1) of the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act reads: “A former president shall, upon ceasing to hold office of President, be entitled to the gratuity, monthly pension, benefits and facilities specified in Part 111 of the schedule.”
Part III of the schedule cites a former president’s benefits as including tax-free lump sum gratuity calculated in accordance with the formula applicable in the case of civil servants or one-year tax-free salary, whichever is greater tax-free monthly pension at 50 percent of the president’s salary except where a house is provided at government expense, a monthly housing allowance equal to 40 percent of his salary at the time of ceasing to hold office as president.
Kamuzu died in South Africa on November 25 1997.
In 1999, government repossessed two vehicles, a BMW and a four-wheel drive, that were given to the former head of State as retirement benefits and the Office of the President of Cabinet (OPC) said at the time that “the cars were taken back because the late Kamuzu Banda had no wife and children.”