By Chifundo Nedi
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Office of Ombudsman has faulted Ministry of Tourism Principal Secretary Dr Ken Ndala for unfair treatment towards Principal Tourism Officer Blandina Khondowe, former Miss Malawi ahead of June 23, Presidential Elections.
In March 2020, Ministry of Tourism Principal Secretary Dr Ken Ndala was under fire for compromising his powers over his summoning letter to former Miss Malawi Khondowe’s social media political comments.
The former Miss Malawi Blandna Khondowe, who is now working as a civil servant under the Ministry of Tourism has been called for a disciplinary hearing at the ministry for openly supporting UTM Party on social media against civil servants rules and regulations of neutrality.
According to the letter written to her and signed by Dr Ndala has been flouting civil service regulations and the constitution of the Republic of Malawi by writing political comments on her Facebook page critical of the current government of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
However, in her response, Khondowe has stated that the letter was ill-conceived because it has been served to her in a shorter than 21 day period as stipulated by the law.
The Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has therefore demanded Principal Secretary for tourism to apologies to Khondowe by November 15, 2020 for the victimization and anxiety she suffered as a result of the illegal and irregular disciplinary process they followed.
This follows Ombudsman’s findings that the Ministry used irregular disciplinary process against her over her involvement in politics which is contrary to rule1:201(24) of the Malawi Public Service Regulations (MPSR).
In a letter dated October 23, 2020 signed by Ombudsman Chizuma and available to The Maravi Post found that Khondowe received unfair treatment, victimization and intimidation from this ministry because they did not use proper disciplinary processes.
“Referring to the letter dated 3rd December 2019 from ministry of tourism, after noticing that Khondowe had on several occasions involved herself in politics by writing on her Facebook page political comments against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government (ruling government then), the Principal Secretary for tourism informed Khondowe of the disciplinary charges and he asked her to fulfill the charges before 11th December 2019. He continued by warning her that failure to do so will result in referring the matter to Civil Service Commission.
“According to Khondowe, she responded to the disciplinary charges on 6th December 2019 where she complained that the charges were not considered because the notice of the these charges was against section 27 of the public services Act which commends 21 days’ notice as the period within to respond to disciplinary charges,” reads part of the verdict..
Chizuma observes that that the notice of these charges are against sections 33, 34 and 35 of the constitution of Malawi concerning freedoms, opinions and expression.
But results are showing that the Ministry did not respond to the above response from Khondowe which made her to be feeling uncomfortable at her office.
Reads part of the letter, “I take judicial notice of the fact that the May 2019 and June 2020 elections created a very charged political space in this country and that even civil servants supporting different political parties became involved in political activities in one way or another through social media………………………….., there is no evidence that any of these civil servants or others other than Mrs Blandina Khondowe was disciplined for actively getting into politics. She was clearly discriminated against. This was maladministration”.
The Tourism Ministry is yet to respond on the Ombudsman’s ruling on the matter.