Sammy Njirammadzi Alfandika has been appointed as new chief elections officer for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Alfandika replaces Willie Kalonga who was suspended and consequently fired alongside director of administration and human resources George Khakhi, in May this year over alleged financial abuse at the electoral body.
In a statement signed by MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, Alfandika’s appointment is effective January 2, 2018.
Reads the statement in part: “The appointment of Alfandika is in accordance with Section 12 of the Electoral Commission Act, and follows a rigorous interview process which were held on December 21 and 22, 2017 and he came out as best the candidate.
“The role of chief elections officer is vital in the management of electoral process and the Commission has no doubt that Alfandika has the right skills and experience to deliver in this important role.”
Ansah described Alfandika as experienced in elections and public administration having occupied senior management positions in government, the MEC itself and international organisations before.
He holds BSoc (Bachelor of Social Science) and MA (Master of Arts) -Economics degrees from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.
“MEC has since congratulated Alfandika on his appointment and wishes him well in the implementation of the MEC’s mandate of delivering free, fair, transparent, inclusive, cost-effective and credible elections as a beacon of our democracy,” it reads.
Kalonga and Khakhi were sent on forced leave in August, 2016 alongside deputy chief elections officer (operations) Harris Potani, director of finance Khumbo Phiri, procurement manager Edington Chilapondwa, procurement officer Chimwemwe Kamala and assistant procurement officer Sydney Ndembe. The senior managers and some staff were sent on forced leave to pave the way for investigations into the financial abuse at the electoral body.
However, five of the suspended officers; Potani, Kamala, Ndembe, Phiri and Chilapondwa were reinstated.
The suspension followed a decision made in May last year by delegates to the Malawi Electoral Cycle Support (Mecs) Project Steering Committee meeting, comprising government officials and development partners.
During the meeting, Britain dismissed outright MEC’s explanation on how K15.4 million was spent between July 2012 and December 2014.
A three-member team comprising Auditor General Stevenson Kamphasa, retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal Duncan Tambala and Rex Harawa, managing partner for AMG Global—certified public accountants and auditors, probed the allegations of financial abuse at the electoral body.
In November 2015, Treasury asked MEC to take appropriate disciplinary measures in dealing with officials involved in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
Meanwhile, Kalonga is challenging the decision saying he was wrongly accused.