The High Court in Blantyre this afternoon granted an ex-party injunction to 15 district commissioners (DCs) and administration officers restraining Ministry of Local Government implementing and nullifying their promotion.
The injunction comes against the background that Ministry of Local Government has demoted district commissioners (DCs) and administration officers who were promoted in April this year because their new posts did not exist in the civil service.
Lawyer representing 3 of the 12 DC’s Ambokire Salimu from Salimu and Associates said Judge Sylvester Kalembe has set aside August 25 as the date for inter-party hearing of the application.
The DC’s promotions were affected April 8 2014 and their nullification reverts to the day before their new grades. Among the five DCs who have been demoted from p2 to p3 include DC for Chiladzulu James Manyetera, DC for Nkhotakota James Kanyangalazi, DC for Salima Rev Moses Chimphepo and DC for Mulanje Jack Ngulube among other officers.
Three directors at the Ministry of Local Government affected by the demotion include director of chiefs Lawrence Makonokaya, director of rural development Emmanuel Bambe and a Miss Chimphamba who have been moved back to P3 from P2.
While others denied their positions had been nullified, Kanyangalazi confirmed to The Nation, saying: “Yes, it is true I have been moved to P3 from P2, but I remain DC. It is my hope that the promotion would be normalised in future, this is not the end of everything.”
Four new female DCs have also been affected by the demotion, namely Memory Kaleso for Neno, Reinhard Chavula-Kavita for Machinga, Fanny Msimuko of Ntchisi and Rosemary Moyo for Karonga who were promoted to either P4 or P3.
Others who have been demoted from their various new posts are Grace Chirwa of Chitipa, Atanasio Chibwana of Blantyre District Council, Peter Jimusole of Likoma Island and Malango Botomani of Dowa.
Principal secretary for Local Government Kester Kaphaizi held meetings with the affected personnel on Monday, but the ministry had not responded to queries for confirmation of the development by on Thursday.
But a letter which The Nation has sourced addressed to one of the demoted DCs cites three reasons, among them, lack of funding to service their new positions.
“I write to inform you that after thorough consultations with the relevant authorities and discussions held with you on 11th August, 2014 with regard and further noting that the post to which you were promoted does not exist, there was no Established Warrant and there were no funds available to service the post.
“This renders your post to District Commissioner Grade P4 null and void. You’re further informed that you have been reverted to the post of Chief Administrative Officer (Grade F/P5) with effect from April 7, 2014. You will now, however, serve at Lilongwe District Council,” the letter addressed to one affected officers reads.
The process of promoting DCs started in 2005 when an authority was granted to upgrade the positions, but Establishing Warrants were issued in 2010, which meant that Treasury had to look for financial resources to meet the cost of the promotions.
However, that process stalled until when former president Joyce Banda took over power in April, 2012. She issued a directive to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to finalise the process.
A Blantyre-based lawyer has, however, described government’s action to demote the officers as disciplinary action.
“Any demotion is disciplinary action and that can only happen when one is heard. It doesn’t matter whether there was a mistake to promote one; it requires consideration of all circumstances like to be heard,” said the lawyer who asked for anonymity.