The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has with immediate effect banned ministries and departments from hiring Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) employees on secondment.
In a memorandum dated January 29 2016, which The Nation has seen, Chief Secretary George Mkondiwa said it came to his notice that a number of ministries and departments have engaged, on secondment, MBC staff.
Most of the employees are hired as communications/public relations officers or media specialists.
Mkondiwa explains in the communication that MBC is being deprived of experienced staff and that ministries are failing to refund MBC the money the corporation pays to the seconded staff as salaries.
“In view of the above, I would like to inform you that with immediate effect, secondment of MBC staff will be restricted to the presidency and that all other government ministries and departments should source such human resource needs from the market,” reads the memo reference number 20/03/17 in part.
It adds: “In addition, MBC’s wage bill has continued to grow although a few of the staff are actually on the ground. Worse still, MBC has had problems to claim back salaries and benefits paid to seconded staff from ministries and departments. This has, therefore, heavily impacted on finances of the corporation.”
Mkondiwa argued that the secondment of MBC staff may have helped such employees to be exposed to other professional experiences, but said their absence from MBC has crippled the corporation’s operations.
Some of the MBC employees on secondment include Ayam Maeresa and Charles Vintulla to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; Rebecca Phwitiko is at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Muhlabase Mughogho is with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; Simeon Boyce and Rejoice Chaponda are at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation while Mathews Malata and Halmiton Chimala were seconded to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
However, one of the MBC seconded employees, who did not want to be named, said Mkondiwa’s memo was vague as it did not indicate what would happen to those currently on secondment in different ministries and departments.
But in a written response to a questionnaire, MBC director general Aubrey Sumbuleta confirmed yesterday that MBC is owed “quite substantial amounts of money by some government ministries and departments” that have been utilising services of the corporation’s employees who have been on secondment.
Sumbuleta said he did not have the figures off his head, but said the money owed has accumulated over several years.
“The numbers are many. I may not give you the figures off head since this is a weekend. However, I must extend by saying that most of this staff is the best skilled and highly talented that the corporation has trained over the years,” he said.