State-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Development Institute (Smedi) has extended contracts of its three top bosses, including chief executive officer (CEO), despite an earlier recommendation to terminate their contracts.
In July 2015, an audit report prepared by Central Internal Audit Unit under the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development showed that the top three bosses—CEO Charles Kazembe and his two directors—allegedly made bogus claims of fuel and telephone allowances amounting to over K21 million ($42 000).
The report recommended disciplinary action and removal of the concerned officers.
However, the three have been given six months contract extensions beginning March, pending their assessment to be awarded another contract.
In an interview last week, Kazembe confirmed he was still working.
But when asked if the audit report had cleared him, he referred the matter to Smedi board chairperson Betty Chinyamunyamu who, however, expressed ignorance about the contract extension.
She asked for a questionnaire to be sent to Smedi secretariat and not her private e-mail address.
The Nation has seen the contract extension letter dated April 4 2016 signed by Chinyamunyamu and copied to compntroller of Statutory Corporations, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism principal secretary, Smedi appointments and disciplinary committee chairperson.
Reads in part the letter: “Reference is made to letters from… and yourself on 29th February 2016, all letters expressed interest to renew their employment contracts… I write to advice that the letters were discussed at the meeting of the board held on 11th March 2016 and the decision was made to extend CEO contract up to 31st October 2016 and two directors by another six months up to 31st August 2016.
“Please note that since these are just extensions of existing contracts and therefore all conditions of service will remain as in the contract. This further means that the gratuities will be paid at the expiry of the extensions.”
The letter said the decision to offer the contract extensions was based on the need to carry out performance assessments before new contracts could be offered.
In a separate e-mail response, Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani said the matter was referred to board of directors and the ministry was awaiting their response.
By the time we were going for press, Chinyamunyamu and Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa were yet to respond to our questionnaires despite several reminders through text messages.
Meanwhile, Smedi staff on April 19 2016 wrote the organisation’s board chair expressing dissatisfaction with the leadership of their institution led by the three senior executive management members.
However, in response, Smedi management gave conditions for the staff to adhere to if they wanted to use the board room for meetings, including a three days’ notice prior to submission of a written request from management.
Smedi was formed after the merger of Malawi Entrepreneurs Development Institute (Medi) and Small Enterprise Development Organisation of Malawi (Sedom).