- Over 50 verbally sent packing
- This is outright illegal—Dzonzi
State Residences has redeployed over 50 members of staff who were working as mechanics, chefs, waiters and landscaping assistants at Kamuzu Palace.
The development marks a continuation of mass transfers at State Residences since President Peter Mutharika ascended to power in 2014.
Soon after Mutharika assumed office, State Residences was found in contempt of court after it defied a court order restraining it from going ahead with plans to redeploy over 22 household staff from the institution.
Two weeks ago, 12 presidential bodyguards were redeployed to the Malawi Police Service .
A concerned employee who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals said on Tuesday last week that State Residences deputy director Lawford Palani only verbally informed them on April 19 2016 that their services were no longer needed at the palace.
Said the employee: ‘‘Two days later, we were told to vacate the institutional houses and stop reporting for duties with immediate effect.’’
The employee further said although they had running contracts with government they had not been advised of their new duty stations.
Another employee from the garage where 13 have been redeployed, said on Wednesday last week they were verbally told they would be transferred to Plant and Vehicle Hire and Engineering Services (PVHES).
An employee from the household department said chefs, waiters and other employees have been sent to the Office of the President and Cabinet where they will be told of their new duty stations.
The employee from the garage said the sudden development has greatly affected their families, especially school-going children because they cannot look for places at other schools since they do not know where they will be sent. Said the employee: ‘‘We don’t know where OPC will post us. Some of our children are also supposed to write examinations next month.’’
State House press officer Chikondi Juma confirmed the transfers, describing them as “normal”.
While denying the workers were given short notice, she could not mention the date they were informed to leave the palace.
Said Juma: “They are on normal transfers. The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) is expected to redeploy them to other ministries.”
Asked if it was procedural to verbally inform the officers their postings and order to vacate houses, Juma said they were only communicating the message which came from OPC.
Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa said yesterday he was not aware of any shakeup at State House.
In 2014, when the State Residences made similar redeployment of staff, some employees took the matter to the Labour Relations Court in Lilongwe which ruled that State Residences should make proper house arrangements for staff before posting them to new work stations.
Private practice lawyer Justin Dzonzi faulted State Residences for verbally informing employees about their posting, saying this is against Section 43 of the Constitution on administrative justice which stipulates that every person shall have the right to:
(a) Lawful administrative action where any of his or her rights or interests are affected or threatened;
(b) Procedurally fair administrative action where any of his or her rights or legitimate expectations are affected or threatened;
(c) Be furnished with reasons in writing for administrative action which affects any of his or her rights or interests;
(d) Administrative action which is justifiable in relation to the reasons given where any of his or her rights are affected or threatened.
Said Dzonzi; ‘‘If your employer just walks in your office and verbally tells you, we are posting you somewhere and vacate your house, that is a serious breach of Section 43 of the Constitution.
‘‘This is an aggravated case because government is supposed to set standards but if government treats its citizens that way it’s really a shame. This is outright illegal.’’ n