The Ombudsman has suspended three of its employees who were signatories to petitions sent to Parliamentâ€™s Public Appointments and Declaration of Assets Committee against the incumbent Tujilane Chizumila.
The suspension was effected the same day the committee wrote the office of the Ombudsman, throwing out the petitions and asking the institution to internally handle the matter, according to correspondence seen by The Nation.
The three are assistant internal auditor Yohane Sambakunsi, senior accounts assistant Stanley Gome and audio visual technician Phillip Mwatiwamba Banda.
In an interview on Sunday, spokesperson for the office of the Ombudsman Patrick Maulidi confirmed the suspensions.
â€œThree of our staff members are indeed on interdiction for gross misconduct. The suspended employees went ahead to photocopy confidential documents which is against the Malawi Public Service Regulations [and] some provisions in the terms and conditions of service,â€ said Maulidi.
He said the charges levelled against the three also include violation of code of ethics, the internal grievances procedures, breach of the provisions of the Ombudsmanâ€™s Act, the officeâ€™s Terms and Conditions of Service and the Malawi Public Service Regulations (MPSR).
â€œThe staff will have a fair and just disciplinary hearing because they will be presented with the charges in line with the Public Service Act and rules of natural justice. Their responses will be presented to the Appointments and Disciplinary Board which is independent and not part of the office of the Ombudsman management,â€ said Maulidi.
A suspension letter seen by The Nation and signed by the principal human resource officer Beston Jumbe on behalf of the Ombudsman states that during the period of the suspension, the three will be on half pay salary.
The three sent to Parliamentâ€™s Public Appointments Declaration of Assets Committee two petitions. The first was dated June 25 2012 and the other July 23 2012, in which they, among others, asked Parliament to intervene in various grievances including alleged corruption, nepotism and abuse of office by the Ombudsman.
The committee summoned Chizumila, but she refused to attend the meeting; arguing the staff petitions did not follow procedures and that the committee would be jumping the gun and encouraging the law of the jungle if it entertained the petitioners.
The committee through another letter dated July 31, 2012, signed by Deputy Clerk of Parliament Henry Njolomole on behalf of the Clerk of Parliament, rescinded its earlier stand and agreed
with Chizumilaâ€™s observations.