Taxpayer-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has faulted President Peter Mutharika for his recent ‘firing’ of officers from the public service, arguing some were done in “a manner that did not meet the requirements of procedural and substantive justice”.
MHRC has since urged the President to desist from actions seen as politically motivated in dealing with appointments and dismissals of public officers.
In a statement published yesterday, MHRC said Mutharika’s recent appointments and dismissals, in particular those at the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) where the commissioner general and his deputy were both replaced, raise serious human rights implications and threatens the integrity of the public service.
The President replaced MRA commissioner general John Biziwick with Ralph Kamoto who had just been hired as chief executive officer for the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera). Biziwick’s deputy, Crispin Kulemeka, has been replaced with former MRA director of policy planning Roza Mbilizi.
Mutharika fired the two public officers despite still having substantial length of time to serve under their contracts. For instance, Biziwick’s contract was running up to May 30 2016.
In the statement signed by its chairperson Sophie Kalinde, MHRC said the trend was a replica of the dismissals and removals of officers from public offices under the previous administrations which resulted in commencement of lawsuits by the concerned individuals and payment of hefty sums of money by government as compensation.
“The commission reiterates the position it took in 2012 on this trend that the dismissals and removals of public officers from office in this manner raises serious implications for human rights guaranteed in sections 43 and 31 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi on the right to administrative justice and fair labour practices, respectively,” said MHRC, adding that such dismissals are seen as politicisation of the public service and public office.
The commission further recalled that previously many officers from public institutions such as MRA, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), among others, have often found themselves subject to non-meritorious as well as unprocedural and unlawful removals from office on the change of government from one political party to another.
The commission has since called on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to demonstrate total commitment to the translation of the rhetoric to the public service reformation into reality.
During his campaign and after taking office following his victory in the May 20 Tripartite Elections, Mutharika told Malawians that appointments and removals of public officers and leaders of other accountability institutions shall be on merit through a special public appointments committee, but just two months down the line the President has fired dozens of senior public servants and replaced them with his favoured individuals.