National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) has suspended four employees for alleged indiscipline, according to a notice signed by the State-owned company’s deputy chief executive officer Helen Buluma.
The four suspended employees are financial accountant MavutoNdalahoma, human resources and administration officer Margaret Sakala, communications officer TelephorusChigwenembe and personal assistant in the office of the chief executive officer (CEO) Christabel Chikusa.
The notice, which does not specify the alleged misconduct, states that the four will be on suspension for a two-week period effective March 4 2021. The notice adds that during the period, the company will be undertaking investigations to be followed by a disciplinary hearing.
Reads the notice in part: “During this time, all the four members of staff have been asked not to transact on any Nocma business nor come to the office until further communication from management through the human resources and administration department.”
The letter further states that the alleged indiscipline and serious misconduct of the four had potential to disrupt Nocma’s business operations.
When contacted on Sunday, Chigwenembe confirmed receiving his letter of suspension alongside his three colleagues, but said he could not divulge more details.
He said: “At this stage, I can only confirm that I have indeed been suspended together with my colleagues but as for details beyond that, I would rather not say for now. As of now, I would like to see all the processes till the end.”
But a source from Nocma said the four were suspended on suspicion that they were among Nocma staff who were working on a petition to Nocma board of directors to raise their grievances against Buluma.
The source said a copy of the purported petition, which among others asked the board to intervene on Buluma’s management style, leaked to Buluma; hence, effecting the suspensions.
When contacted on Sunday, Buluma cut off the line upon introduction of the subject. She did not pick up our subsequent phone calls. She also did not respond to questions sent through WhatsApp.
Last year, Nocma board appointed Buluma as acting CEO following the suspension of CEO Gift Dulla from the position on October 29.
However, Buluma reverted to the position of deputy CEO at the expiry of the acting period.
Dulla was suspended alongside director of finance Richard Milanzi to pave the way for investigations into alleged financial and procurement mismanagement at the entity.
Later, Nocma board also suspended procurement officer Caroline Mkwala. However, up to now, the suspensions have not been resolved.
In January this year, Minister of Energy Newton Kambala, in an interview with The Nation, faulted the Nocma board for failing to expeditiously resolve the staffing gaps at the company.
Nocma is wholly-owned by the Government of Malawi and was formed in line with the National Energy Policy of January 2003, but was registered on December 14 2010 under the Companies Act of 1984.
The strategic company is involved in fuel importation, storage at strategic fuel reserves and distribution nationwide. It is complemented by Petroleum Importers Limited, a consortium of private sector petroleum trading companies.