The government fired former Immigration Chief Elvis Thodi from his position a day after he was dressed down by his juniors and grilled by President Joyce Banda over his leadership style at a meeting held at the State House in Lilongwe on Sunday.
Sources who attended the meeting confided in The Daily Times that officials from the department complained about Thodi’s poor leadership style, an accusation which he was unable to defend himself as he was not told the agenda of the meeting in advance.
In an interview yesterday, Thodi confirmed attending the meeting with Banda and other immigration officers in Lilongwe on Sunday, but said Chief Secretary Bright Msaka or principal secretaries of the HomeAffairs Ministry were better placed to divulge details.
Two sources who corroborated the issue said separately that Banda called for the meeting on Sunday, but the agenda was kept a secret until the meeting which started at 9am and ended at 12 noon.
One source said after the president’s brief statement, she asked officials from the department to raise any questions and outline any problems affecting them. At that point, the source said, one officer rose and said the leadership at the Immigration Department was the major problem.
“The officer said Thodi is arrogant, disrespects officers and that he once said he fears no one in the country except former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika,” said our source.
The source said another officer stood up and told the president that Thodi also orders the release of suspects after they are arrested, fails to promote officers, saying the gap between him and the next officer is wide.
Another officer, the sources said, also complained that the department ordered for guns from a supplier in South Africa but after payment, the guns were never delivered. The officer also accused Thodi of promoting corruption and nepotism and of allegedly granting citizenship to Burundians.
“The Chief Immigration Officer was ambushed. He was not told of the agenda of the meeting and it was surprising that his juniors were telling the president all this in his presence. This is setting a bad precedence,” said one of our sources.
Among others, the source said, the meeting was attended by 34 Immigration officials, Vice President Khumbo Kachali, Chief Secretary to Government Bright Msaka, Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa and Principal Secretary One and Two for the ministry, Zangazanga Chikhosi and Ben Chisamile, respectively.
In an interview yesterday, Chikhosi confirmed the meeting took place, but declined to comment on it.
“If the government wanted the information to go public, we could have invited you,” Chikhosi said. On his part, Msaka refused to comment on the matter referring The Daily Times to Home Affairs principal secretaries or the minister. Another source said after each complaint, President Banda asked Thodi to defend himself, saying he was unprepared for the accusations and kept on contradicting himself most of the times.
“It was like a kangaroo court,” said our source. Our source said Banda told the meeting that she had lifted all the interdictions and suspensions that were effected by Thodi and said: “I have heard all your problems. I will reorganise the department. I will make a very bold decision to make sure that the department is improved.”
A day later on Monday, Thodi was given a letter informing him that the government was not renewing his contract and was put on forced leave.