By Stanley Nkhondoyachepa – Mana.
Nkhotakota District Council direct employees, Wednesday, downed tools and sealed the council offices over alleged long standing issues on maladministration by the District Commissioner (DC) and other Council officials.
As early as 7 am, over 40 employees blocked the road and the main entrance to the DC’s office with tree branches chanting songs demanding the immediate transfer of the DC, Dr. Medson Matchaya and other officials.
Speaking in an interview, leader of the group, Master Phiri, said the direct employees were demonstrating for their arrears dating back to 23 months and poor treatment by the DC towards junior staff.
“We have had at least three meetings with the DC and he has been promising to pay us but we just discovered that he is good at promising with no action,” said Phiri.
He said while it was true that some employees had shortages arising from non-remittance of market revenues, failure to pay them was against their agreement as council was supposed to recover the money through monthly salary deductions.
“Even some of the people he claims to have shortages have nothing to do with revenue collection. How can drivers, watchmen and cleaners for example have shortages?” wondered Phiri.
He said the DC transferred some clerical work to senior officers, leaving the junior officers with no work to do.
He said although the workers were demanding transfers of the Director of Administration (DOA), Principal Human Resource Manager (PHRM), Human Resource Manager, Procurement Officer, Internal Auditor and DC Secretary, their alleged failure to perform might have been due to the poor leadership by the DC.
The employees have vowed to continue with their action until they get their wages and the DC is transferred.
Speaking in a separate interview, District Commissioner, Dr. Medson Matchaya said he was aware of the issue but explained that those not getting their salaries had misappropriated Council funds.
He said he had been lenient enough by not getting them prosecuted but opted to recover the money through monthly salary deductions.
“The main issue is that those people are not happy with the changes I have made to the council aimed at bringing sanity in our operations,” said Matchaya.
He said the demands to transfer other named officials was because of the administrative changes made after noting anomalies with the previous arrangement where junior officers would do tasks that cannot be delegated.
“Just imagine some Clerical Officers would handle administration of deceased estate, do valuation of property against their profession among others which is a responsibility of senior officers at the council,” he said.
According to Matchaya, Local Government Principal Secretary will visit the district on Thursday to try to resolve the issue.