District commissioner (DC) for Machinga Stuart Ngoka has refused to be transferred to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development headquarters in Lilongwe, arguing that the posting is a demotion.
Ngoka and the ministry are locked in the transfer battle after the DC obtained a court injunction stopping the ministry from shifting him to Lilongwe where he was earmarked for the position of acting deputy director of rural development.
As DC, a position he has held since 2002, Ngoka is in grade P3 on the civil service scale while the position he was posted to occupy is in P4.
He sought legal redress through lawyer Mwiza Nkhata on March 10 2014, the same day new DC for Mangochi Reinghard Chavula was reportedly due to introduce herself to the council’s staff.
Principal secretary for Local Government Christopher Makileni described Ngoka’s snub as strange, saying postings are administrative tools used for various reasons.
Makileni said the DC was being posted to Lilongwe to pave the way for police investigations into an alleged fraud at the council involving K16 million.
“He has not given us any reason for refusing the posting instruction to headquarters. We hear he has obtained an injunction from the courts which he has not yet served on the ministry.
“But if it is true, that is very strange thing to happen. Postings in any institutions are administrative tools that are sometimes used to prevent some criminal activities from continuing taking place in councils pending police investigations,” said Makileni.
He said his office has written submissions from staff at Machinga DC’s office which show that the council received K50 million from construction firm Mota-Engil to compensate villagers affected by the construction of a railway project in the district.
“According to the report we have from Machinga, Mr Ngoka and Mr Assan, then acting director of finance, falsified documents and indicated that they had paid out K66 million, which is K16 million over and above what Mota-Engil gave them,” said Makileni.
He alleged that Ngoka stole the K16 million from devolved sectors within the council such as education, health and agriculture.
But Ngoka accused Makileni of blackmailing him and challenged fiscal police to establish the facts of the alleged mismanagement of funds.
“He has been using that to blackmail me so that I accept things which are not correct and he has actually talked to me about the same, but I don’t understand anything,” he said.
Ngoka said the K50 million from Mota-Engil never reached his office because everything was done by project implementers.
“They go around where the railway will pass and do evaluations together with the regional lands office and after the evaluations they come up with figures of beneficiaries of the compensation,” he said.