The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has exonerated Lilongwe City Council (LCC) chief executive officer (CEO) Moza Zeleza from all charges of alleged gross underperformance of the council, Weekend Nation has learnt.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday this week, Zeleza disclosed that he was officially communicated about the findings at a recent meeting with the ministry’s Principal Secretary (PS) Kinswell Dakamau which was also attended by a number of directors and members of Local Government Service Commission.
He said he twice appeared before the investigative committee which included people from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and Solicitor General, .
Said Zeleza: “During those meetings, I was informed of the findings of the investigative committee by the PS himself where it was made clear to me that I had been exonerated on the allegations that had been made against me. The PS informed me that the committee recommended that I should resume my work as CEO.”
Lilongwe district commissioner (DC) Charles Makanga served as acting CEO for LCC.
Before the embattled CEO was sent on forced leave, there was bad blood between him and the incumbent Lilongwe City Mayor Desmond Bikoko who together with other councilors were accused of orchestrating Zeleza’s removal.
While confirming that Zeleza will report back to the office on Monday, Local Goverrment Ministry spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said a final report on his forced administratve leave asked Zeleza to impove on service delivery.
Commenting on his impending return to the council where he will work with the same people who were behind his miseries, the CEO observed that as a professional one does not choose who to work with but rather execute his duties in line with the Local Government Act.
He said: “The city is bigger than an individual; the CEO ultimately is there to promote and move government policies and agenda for the good of the city residents.”
In the letter Zeleza at the time of his forced leave, the ministry said it was dissatisfied with the dismal performance of Lilongwe City Council in respect of implementation of projects and service delivery in general.
Meanwhile, the fate of the council’s four directors who were suspended in 2016 on poor performance related issues remains unknown as investigations are yet to be concluded.
In March 2016, the council suspended director of engineering Julius Tsogolani and director of finance Jeremiah Sibande which LCC public relations officer Tamara Chafunya said were reasons of administrative in nature.
The council also suspended director of planning Hilary Kamela and director of administration Dyton Milanzi.
The suspension coincided with Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom’s) disconnection of power to the council for non-payment of electricity bills of over K50 million.
Local Government Service Commission chairperson Sophie Kalimba in an interview on Tuesday said the cases for the directors were still being considered.
While admitting that discussions already commenced on the matter Kalimba pointed out that the commission is not working on any deadline.
Said Kalimba: “I can’t say when we will conclude this issue because it depends on when the commission will meet again. Right now, the committee is on recess until next week and we will be in office after next week.”
The chairperson also could not say why it has taken more than two years to make a determination on the issue.
In an interview, one of the suspended directors Tsogolani said it has been a torturous experience to wait for a determination for two years and appealed to government to fast track the process.
According to him, they have appeared before the committee three times but he has not heard from it since mid last year.
He said: “We are now getting half pay and all benefits were taken away except the security guard. Some of us feel like giving up because this is now pure torture. This issue has dragged for too long.”
LCC has been embroiled in a number of controversies which include last year’s suspension of payments for all road works by the Roads Fund Administration (RFA) for poor quality.
RFA had indicated that payment will only be effected after the issue of quality is addressed by the council.