….Zamba accused of blocking people from Lilongwe
….post re-advertised after interviews
Two days after the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) asked President Lazarus Chakwera to fire Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba for interfering in other institutions, senior Malawi Congress Party (MCP) officials from Lilongwe have told The Investigator Magazine that the SPC is blocking appointments of people from the district including CEO for Roads Authority.
The civic group bemoaned “nepotism, tribalism and appointments” of unqualified people just because they come from selected districts, in this case SPC Zamba’s home district of Dowa.
The Roads Authority which manages the multibillion-kwacha road projects has been a centre of attraction for politicians and those with power to control the money, primarily for their pockets and companies related to them or party followers.
This time, the SPC, already implicated in Fuel procurement, Energy Power Purchase Agreements, and fight over ESCOM, EGENCO and other institutions is said to be wanting to impose her own candidate for the CEO post.
The last Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Matapa appointed in 2017 was fired by the Board in 2021 and ever since, they have failed to recruit replacement, raising serious governance issues as politicians and SPC fight to have own robot to the post.
Five shortlisted candidates
Finally, early in September, the Roads Authority Board managed to restart the process of recruiting a new Chief Executive Officer and the process reached towards the end that five were short listed and interviewed for the post.
However, the advert was allegedly designed in a way to exclude some potential engineers that could have had a backing of powerful government figures, which raised questions about the people that eventually made it on the list.
Most engineers from the private sector did not apply as one told The Investigator Magazine “you don’t want to waste your time on a charade of recruitment which they already have names in mind.”
Engineer Matapa, the former CEO was among the five names that we confirmed to have been interviewed. The other is Engineer Sam Kadangwe who is the incumbent director of major projects according to RA website.
Engineer Francis Dimu, Director of Planning and Development, also made it to the top five and attended interviews so too another former RA longtime official Engineer Placid Kasakatira who left the institution in 2015, two years before Matapa would rise to become CEO.
The last one is Engineer Douglas Kalinde, another long time RA official.
The results and cancellation
The Investigator Magazine was privileged with the results from the interviews whose passing mark was 75 percent and none of the five candidates were scored 75 but two of them made it slightly above 70 making them eligible for final consideration.The two- Kasakatira and Matapa emerged tops and that opened a can of accusations that Zamba did not want one of them as he came from Lilongwe.
The Board, scared of what has happened to the EGENCO Board and that of Malawi Savings Board after it failed to dance to the SPC’s tune, quickly became innovative and finally remembered some few issues with the top two candidates.
Despite being shortlisted by the same Board, Kasakatira finally the board remembered he had some issues in terms of performance, and it would not be appropriate-despite scoring him high- to give him the coveted post of CEO, because of his performance some years ago.
For Matapa, who is said to be backed by other people as well, his good score jolted he memory of the Board, which had shortlisted and interviewed him, that he had been fired for being irregularly recruited during the DPP regime. Therefore, the board concluded that he cant be CEO again. The position has been readvertised.
SPC wants Dowa squad only
Senior officials in the MCP claim that Zamba has spent most of her time to remove or pave way for people that were appointed by her predecessor Zangazanga Chikhosi and Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka thinking they dominated lucrative positions.
“She has been fighting what she thinks is a Lilongwe faction of MCP headed by Mkaka. Kasakatira is from Nkhoma in Lilongwe therefore he does not qualify. You must come from Dowa to pass through the SPC approval,” charged a senior party official.
Zamba’s associate disputed the claims saying the Board was responsible and could not shift the blame to the SPC as she is being used a scape goat in many recruitment issues in public service.
“That lady is very prayerful, people are fighting her because she is very strict. If the board shortlisted
the people and then decided, they had faults how has that got to do with the SPC. People are determined to get rid of her, but I am sure the President trusts her judgement,” said the associate. A close ally of Mkaka said the Secretary General was busy strengthening the party but said perception was that Zamba was fighting people from Lilongwe and favouring those from her home district.
“We have nothing to do with government offices, we are busy in the field. If people of Lilongwe feel or perceive like that it is up to the SPC to demonstrate that she is not nepotistic or favouring people from one district in her appointments. But I can assure you there is nothing like Lilongwe vs Dowa in
MCP, we are all one under President Chakwera,” said the SG’s ally.
The advert which appeared last week in local papers has maintained most of the conditions and it is not known if the two- Matapa and Kasakatira will be allowed to apply.