Sixteen district commissioners (DCs) have petitioned Malawi President Joyce Banda, complaining about nepotism and abuse at the Ministry of Local Government.

The DCs are also asking the President to remove two senior officials at the ministry.

At the centre of the petition, in which the DCs are also asking the President to effect their promotions proposed last year, are the ministry’s principal secretary II Stuart Ligomeka and director of Local Government Services Kiswell Dakamau.

The petition, said to have been delivered to the President’s office last Thursday soon after she returned from her visit in South Africa, has raised several issues including promotion of DCs, general staff welfare, alleged nepotism and favouritism and politicisation of chiefs’ roles.

The DCs also want the President to reconstitute the Local Authority Service Commission (Lascom) which, they claim, was single-handedly dissolved by the two officers.

Lascom was established to oversee human resource requirements of councils, but for some time, the ministry has been operating without one—a situation that recently raised concerns over promotion and recruitment of DCs.

In the petition, the DCs also say the promise of their pending promotions were made during a DC’s conference in Mangochi. They recall that they were assured that they would be promoted within three months to S3/P3 grades from S5/P5.

“During this gathering, we were further informed that Treasury had in fact released K88 million [about $352 000] to the ministry to kick-start the [promotion] process. It is surprising to note that to date, no DC has been promoted,” reads the petition.

The DCs argue that the current decentralisation process places more responsibilities on DCs than some heads of ministries and departments who are at higher grades than the DCs.

Ligomeka and the ministry’s principal secretary I Kester Kaphaizi declined to comment on the issues whereas Dakamau could not be reached on his mobile phone.

Principal secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) responsible for Administration Charles Msosa said he had not seen the petition yet and suggested that if it was addressed directly to the President, then it might have not gone through his office.

“If it [the petition] lands here, we will go through it and see where we can intervene and do the needful,” said Msosa.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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