A government-instituted investigation into the operations of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has found that two directors have virtually taken over the running of the ministry ignoring and by-passing their seniors including the responsible minister.
This is one of the findings by a three member team commissioned by the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).
The team was tasked to inquire into alleged malpractices in the ministry.
The report of the investigation shows that the ministry is suffering from a takeover of sorts by the Director of Human Resource Management and Development, Salim Sumaisi, and the Director of Finance and Administration, Christopher Makileni.
According to the report, the two have been bypassing the Principal Secretary (PS) and the line minister when making crucial decisions for the ministry.
The team found that the current problems at the ministry headquarters became more pronounced after the posting of Makileni to the ministry in May 2012.
The report observes that communication and decision making in the ministry does, at times, not follow the laid down procedures.
It says some decisions which are crucial and require the blessing of the Principal Secretary are made at director level and the Principal Secretary hears about them from other sources.
“A case in point is the arrest of the Chief Executive Officer of Lilongwe City Council on allegations that he was drawing benefits that were not part of his contract of employment,” says the report.
The investigation found that the matter was pursued by Sumaisi and Makileni without the knowledge and approval of the PS, the responsible minister and the OPC.
“The team considers the action taken by the two officers as insubordination which is a serious offence under the Malawi Public Service Regulations (MPSR),” reads the report in part.
The two officers are alleged to have reinstated an officer interdicted for alleged fraud at the Lilongwe City Council.
“The two were also involved in the convening of the District Commissioners’ meeting at Nathenje in Lilongwe where they assured the District Commissioners that they would channel their grievances to the Head of State,” reads the report in our possession.
The investigation team says this was also insubordination because the two directors were aware of the proper channels where the grievances should have been submitted.
However, they deliberately chose to submit them directly to the Head of State.
The team also found that one of the two directors questioned the promotion of four district commissioners and the deployment of allegedly unqualified people as district commissioners.
The investigations team has since recommended that Makileni and Sumaisi be redeployed to another ministry or department.
This is to restore team work and adherence to existing management systems and operations at the ministry, it says.
It further recommends that the PS for the ministry should ensure that officers in his ministry strictly discharge duties and responsibilities specified in their job descriptions.
The PS should also ensure that the officers follow the chain of command in communication and decision making at all times, it adds.
When contacted on Thursday, Makileni said he could not comment on the findings of the investigation team.
“It is not me who commissioned it. It is also an unofficial report and I cannot comment on something that has not been made official. Don’t drag me into this, please,” Makileni said.
He said some of the issues raised in the report were already in court and he could therefore not make any comment on them.
And when also contacted last week, Sumaisi declined to comment saying he was in a meeting.
But further efforts The Daily Times made to get his side of the story proved futile as he cut the line on several attempts.
The investigation team comprised Dr. MacPhail Magwira who was team leader and is Principal Secretary responsible for Malawi Universities Development Programme, Dickson Chunga who Principal Secretary for Civil Service Commission and Harry Chawinga, Director of Finance at the Malawi Defence Force.
The report shows the investigation was undertaken between August 14 and September 3, 2012.