Suspended Kasungu Municipality Council chief executive officer (CEO) Stuart Ngoka has taken to task the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development over its handling of his interdiction and disciplinary procedures.
He is accusing the ministry of using uncorroborated information submitted by elected representatives at the council to crucify him without regard to his rebuttal.
But in a telephone interview on Thursday, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Principal Secretary Kiswell Dakamau, who signed the letter of interdiction, denied being complicit to victimising Ngoka.
In October 2017, the ministry charged Ngoka with seven counts ranging from failure to collect estimated revenue, paying service providers without approval and insulting vendors. He has since been summoned to a disciplinary hearing on September 20 2018.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Ngoka said he felt the whole process was aimed at persecuting him as he claimed the ministry was inconsistent in its handling of the matter.
He said: “I have been out of the office since October 30 2017 hitherto. I was sent on what they have termed leave pending investigations. Initially, the period of leave was meant to last for three months. What surprises me is that they have kept extending the period up until now.
“My expectation was that a report of findings was going to come out so that I am made aware of the nature of the charges. That didn’t happen. Instead, I was served with an order of interdiction on half pay with effect from the month of May 2018.”
In the charge sheet, the ministry accused Ngoka of negligence to duty to which he responded: “As a CEO for Kasungu Municipal Council, I diligently discharged my duties in order to steer development in Kasungu. However, the municipal council political leadership has always been a problem by creating a hostile environment.”
When asked to explain the ministry’s actions, Dakamau said the issue was no longer in the hands of the ministry responsible.
He said: “An independent team sanctioned by the Office of the President and Cabinet [OPC] is the one handling the disciplinary matters. This team comprises people of high calibre and integrity.”
Both sides confirmed that a team of investigators went to Kasungu on a fact-finding mission but none would commit to reveal the findings of that mission.
The ministry has since replaced Ngoka at Kasungu Municipal Council with another CEO.