By Lloyd M’bwana
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Malawi Government through Ministry of Finance’s Treasury Department, this week clearly rebuffed the judicial staff house allowance demands, arguing that the office has no obligation to make such payments.
This is a stinging response for Government to give the striking staff. Meanwhile the staff vows to continue to paralyze judicial work in the country.
In a letter signed by Secretary to the Treasury, Ben Botolo, and addressed to Nyirenda Msisha and Company, and copied to Ritz Attorneys, Government said it regrets to advise that it has not changed its stand on the matter.
The letter, which was released on August 15, said Government has no obligation to make the claimed payments.
Botolo added that the Government cannot accept the demand for payment of housing allowances when there are no financial resources to cater for additional payments to the support staff.
The Treasury furthermore said while Government is ready and willing to continue discussing the matter with a view to find a lasting solution, it cannot do so when labor has been withdrawn.
“Any form of settlement in relation to the claim is unacceptable. Government believes the strike is illegal and unless the employees return to work, it shall be compelled to take action within the law,” said Botolo.
Andy Hariwa, spokesperson for the disgruntled support staff, said his group was not aware of Government’s final decision on the matter.
Hariwa said the group is yet to be briefed by their lawyers, Ritz Attorneys, since the letter is addressed to them.
The members of the Judiciary support staff has been on a nationwide strike for two weeks and cripples ongoing judicial services in the country.
The judicial staff includes court clerks, court marshals, drivers, interpreters and court reporters.
Both the Government and the support staff settled for renowned lawyer Mordecai Msisha as a conciliator.
On Wednesday, Judicial striking staff chanted anti-President Peter Mutharika songs as he passed along Chichiri Highway in Blantyre during this year’s national trade fair official opening.