Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe under fire

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—The Attorney General (AG) of the Republic of Malawi, Chikosa Silungwe, is under fire for being party to a ‘scam’ that will see former Principal Secretary going away with K755 million from the shrinking public pulse as compensation over unfair dismissal.

The former employee Christopher Makileni was redeployed to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Special Duties in 2014 during the Peter Mutharika administration.

Makileni then demanded compensation saying his official vehicle, a Toyota TX, was taken away and that he had stayed at home for months without being given any duties which he regarded as constructive dismissal.

According to an Industrial Court consent order dated 4 August, 2020, Makileni has been awarded K216 million as pension, K205 million for loss of motor vehicle, K270 million as salary before tax and K63 million fuel allowance.

The order was signed by Registrar of the court, lawyer for Makileni, Paul Maulidi and Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe.

However, the consent order has not gone well with the general public and some quarters are of the view that there is a nasty agreement between the AG and Makileni considering the ‘unreasonable’ amount of money charged.

For instance, social commentator Onjezani Kenani has faulted Silungwe for failing to challenge the Makileni demands in Court.

In a post on Facebook, Kenani argued that a brand new Toyota TX costs MK80 million but Makileni has been awarded MK205 million as loss of use of an official vehicle plus MK63 million fuel.

“No, not you, you cannot be compromised. Please challenge the Makileni case,” said Kenani adding that he will not stop until the interests of the poor are protected.

He added: “Interesting arguments people make to defend nonsense. One guy said: When Mulli was given K11 billion you did not make any noise. As if we did not kick out Mutharika for doing precisely that. As if the evils of the Mutharika regime must justify the evils of this regime.

“Listen, if people were pocketing money to enrich themselves by selling access to the President during Mutharika’s rule, it was not right then and it will not be right now. If we hear some people are enriching themselves Ben Phiri or Chisale style, we will rise up against them as much as we did back in the day. Don’t use the nonsense of the past to justify the nonsense of the present. Last of all, do not be mistaken: we are not idiots.”

On his part, aspiring lawyer Negracious Justin, who uses LordDenning QB on social media as pen name, has demanded the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to challenge the Consent Order arguing it is indicative of corruption and money laundering.

“The Applicant was getting a Salary while at home and carrying out no work, but he claims loss of salary. The Applicant had his pension accumulating while at home, but he claims loss of pension.

“The Applicant was at home, not reporting for duties while earning salary every month, and he claims loss of use of Government vehicle and demands the Government to compensate him with money equivalent to buying 3 new vehicles. And these vehicles are to be turned into his personal property.

“The Applicant claims loss of fuel yet he was not reporting for duties. The claim is equivalent to telling us that he was converting the Government fuel into his personal resource and that he lost that opportunity when he was kept at bay. Conceding abuse of Government resources for personal benefits,” argued LordDenning QB.

He added: “To all these nonsensical claims, the Attorney General endorses and supports through the signing of the Consent Order. This can only happen where there is a shady mission agreed upon and going on.”

Silungwe confirmed signing the agreement but said the negotiations over the settlement were already completed when he came into office.

“The signature is mine and the date shows in August 2020, but it’s a long standing case, negotiations with relevant stakeholders started in 2018. Litigation for what it is, the same will say that AG, but negotiations started in 2018, find out what PSs get from government. The public officer decided to go on an early retirement,” Silungwe said as quoted in The Nation.

Quizzed on whether he agreed to the terms of the Consent Order by signing it,  Silungwe had this to say: “You haven’t seen the minutes, Sir. As a lawyer I don’t create facts. If someone wants us to vary the order, they can as us to do so. I was not in the room in the first place. How do I review matters I never negotiated? I will insist you must talk to OPC. The facts to that case talk to OPC, I will insist.”  

However, LordDenning QB finds Silungwe’s arguments void of sincerity.

“If the OPC was party to the scam, why would it be rejecting to agree to the proposed settlement?

If the OPC was party to the claim, why would it instruct the Attorney General to challenge the claim?

If the OPC was an accessory to the scam, why would it be so determined to challenge the claim and contest the alleged contempt of court charges?

“Better still, why would the AG be so unwilling to challenge the claims and yet so willing to sign to the alleged settlement agreement?” he queried.

The ‘scam’ comes high on the heels of a warning by the Attorney General that government is losing billions to payments for contractual disputes.

According to leaked memo by the Attorney General, government has lost a whooping K29 billion in illegal dismissals, poorly drafted contracts, transfers and redeployment of heads of ministries, departments and agencies.

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