Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa has been given a new three-year contract that would see him at the helm of civil service up to 2018, The Nation has learnt.
The decision contradicts the government’s own Public Service Reforms recommendation of trimming principal secretaries (PSs).
Mkondiwa was expected to leave office by November 25 2015 when he attains 60 years of age, government’s mandatory retirement age.
However, two well-placed sources on Monday corroborated that the Chief Secretary has renegotiated another contract.
Government has also promoted director of policy and planning in the Ministry of Health, Dalitso Kabambe, to the position of PS at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, technically jumping the newly created position of chief director.
In an attempt to reduce the number of PSs, government created the position of chief director to accommodate all individuals occupying positions of PS II and PS III.
Kabambe, a former budget director in the Ministry of Finance, replaces James Ali who has been acting as PS at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for almost a year.
The promotion of Kabambe and renewal of Mkondiwa’s contract have raised questions among veteran civil servants we talked to, who claimed selective application of Public Service Reforms that, among other recommendations, was to encourage PSs that have reached or about to reach the mandatory retirement age of 60 to retire early as well as a freeze on external recruitment to allow for re-deployment within the system.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango yesterday said Mkondiwa was yet to reach mandatory retirement age of 60.
However, The Nation has established that Mkondiwa was born on November 25 1955, making him 60 years on the same date this year.
Said Mhango: “We cannot discuss the Chief Secretary’s contract with government because he has not retired yet from the civil service.”
He also confirmed the appointment of Kabambe to the position of PS at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, saying he filled a position that was vacant for a long time.
However, a highly placed source in government told The Nation that Mkondiwa was supposed to have retired by now because apart from reaching mandatory age, the Chief Secretary had accumulated leave days that could have seen him out of office long time ago.
The source said the new contract—which is under wraps—will see the Chief Secretary having his benefits revised upwards and have a hefty take-home package at the end of his contract.
The source said the move has surprised many people in government who are wondering why a person who was about to retire was given a new contract, technically challenging the reforms that are said to be going on in public service.
In its report, the Public Service Reforms Commission chaired by Vice-President Saulos Chilima made several recommendations after noting that the civil service had 96 PSs against 20 Cabinet portfolios.
Reads the recommendation in part: “The rightsizing in the number of principal secretaries [PSs] by fifty-six  from the current ninety-six  to forty  by deleting irrelevant portfolios, deploying some PSs and exiting those that may not be required within the system.
“A freeze on external recruitment in order to allow for re-deployment in the first phase in order to ensure best fit within the system,” reads part of the reform document.
The commission also recommended that a decent one-off exit package should be offered to PSs and an examination of the entire civil service to determine the total structure and delete all irrelevant positions in order to develop a lean and vibrant organisation.
Yesterday, Mkondiwa told The Nation he was attending a meeting and he could not take questions. He did not respond to the short message service (SMS) as an alternative way of reaching to him.