Some recalled diplomats stuck abroad have asked the Malawi Government to pay them their September 2021 foreign service allowances (FSA), saying life was becoming unbearable to survive without resources.
In a written response, Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that out of 63, at least 33 recalled diplomats were yet to return home.
A letter we have seen from the Malawi Embassy in Brazil written by Ambassador Brian Bowler to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Lucky Sikwese asks government to authorise them to pay two recalled diplomats their FSAs after their replacements arrived in the South American country.
Bowler remains Ambassador in Brazil but his deputy Clemence Kapalamula was replaced by politician Vitus Dzoole-Mwale. Second secretary at the embassy, Isaac Chiona, was also recalled.
Reads Bowler’s letter: “You may wish to know Sir, that in August, the mission requested for funds for September, to pay all staff, including Dr. Kapalamula and Mr. Chiona. As you are aware, the mission requests for funds in accordance with the number of officers in the mission.
“Therefore, where officers overstay, and especially where their replacements have arrived, this puts the mission in an awkward position since the FSA will only be received for one officer for an existing position.”
The recalled diplomats were sent letters of their recalls in December 2020 and given three months notice, but with no payment of the FSAs, they have been left hanging only on rental funds.
In an interview on Friday, Sikwese attributed the delays to repatriate recalled diplomats back home to challenges in transferring money to some embassies.
And in a written response, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Rejoice Shumba said recalling of diplomats was a process bound to be affected by many factors, including availability of shipping lines from the concerned countries and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There are no cost implications with their delays. You may wish to take note of the fact that there are procedures that the ministry has to follow and activities that it has to undertake in order to implement these recalls,” she said.