Africa-Press – Malawi. In what could be summed up as arbitrary discretion on critical policy issues, National Aids Commission (Nac) Director of Finance and Administration (DOFA), Pongolani Msakambewa, last week ordered that staff who have some liquidations to complete should not be paid until the unliquidated money is fully recovered.
This means that he wanted the concerned members of staff to go home with virtually nothing despite working the whole month.
Our sources confided in us on Wednesday that the bone of contention is that some members of staff have not liquidated activity money either because their activities are ongoing or the documents grew wings after being handed over to the accounts personnel.
And in trying to recover the money, Msakambewa ordered that staff who had not completed the liquidations should have the unliquidated money advanced to them and be deducted at 100%, meaning some staff going home without pay for some months.
This is against Section 52 of the Employment Act which states that deductions on an employee’s wages shall not exceed one half of the wages being settled over a period of time.
In a response to an emailed questionnaire, Nac Corporate Services and Public Relations Officer, Karen Msiska, said there was nothing of that sort, insisting that the law was clear and would be respected accordingly.
“Deducting 100% of an employee’s salary cannot happen because Section 52 of the Employment Act is very clear on that. In part that section states that even if it is in executing a court order or acting on written consent from an employee, deductions on an employee’s wages shall not exceed one half of the wages paid over a stated period,” he said.
He further stressed that the Nac staff terms and conditions of service provide an internal grievance handling mechanism which staff were encouraged to exhaust.
“Should something internal such as the issue in question happen, the expectation is that the affected member of staff will seek redress using these internal grievance handling mechanisms before taking the issue elsewhere,” added Msiska.
However, sources said Msakambewa sat on the file for some few days and returned it to Human Resources Officer Mwenecharo Munyenyembe with a directive that he effects the 100% deduction on Wednesday.
Msakamebwa singlehandedly made the directive against advice from some quarters within the Nac management who said this decree was against the law.
Staff who tipped us on the issue said this is not the first time for Msakambewa to circumvent the set standard operating mechanism and he sometimes even overrules decisions made by his boss, the Chief Executive Officer.
The staff said on a number of occasions Msakambewa, who joined Nac after the restructuring process in January 2020 from the National Commission for Science and Technology, has sent back programs activity budgets already approved by the Director of Programs and the CEO back to the officers concerned.
This has caused a decline in morale for the programs staff who are tasked to implement HIV program activities as once the Dofa returns the file to them they have to take it through the same supervisors who had already approved the activities through to the CEO.
Some supervisors refuse to approve the reworked activity budgets, stressing that they could not be reviewing what their boss, the CEO, had already approved. Eventually, they lose interest in conducting the activity, something that leaves dents on the national HIV activities.
Msakambewa has on several times also decreed against the conditions of service which state that an officer may go for external training at least once a year by stressing that regardless of need for such, a member of staff cannot go outside the country in consecutive years.
He has also worked against progressive ideas brought about by members of staff.