Malawi: State House Pressures TEVETA Board to Appoint Underqualified Sichola As CEO

2 December 2021

State House officials are reportedly piling pressure on the Board of Directors for the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TEVETA) to hire underqualified Elwin Sichola as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Authority.

Inside sources at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) have confided in Nyasa Times that Sichiola is being favoured by authorities at the State House in spite of being less educated for the post, which fell vacant recently after the former CEO Wilson Makulumiza Nkhoma retired from the public service.

The sources say the board appointed Modesto Gomani to act as CEO pending recruitment of the new boss.

Recently, TEVETA advertised the position in local media and many people, including Gomani himself, applied for the top job.

"Many candidates expressed their interest including the acting chief, Gomani himself applied for the position. But to our surprise, the candidates that were called for interviews were few with acting CEO being left out which created suspicion to the validity of interviews," said one of the sources.

Another source suspected that the interviews were staged to favour Sichiola who was eventually offered the job.

Nyasa Times has seen WhatsApp conversations of the Directors of the Board where some have expressed disapproval with the way the interviews were handled.

In the conversations, one of the Board members argue that "Sichiola lacks technical expertise as well as institutional memory."

"The newly appointed head comes from Ntcheu where the Board Chairperson for the institution Don Whayo comes from, a development, which has also worsened the process because on the other hand nepotism has taken stage.

"Should we say these interviews were in good faith because they know always that Tonse government preaches fairness and transparency, but has lacked in TEVETA appointment," asked the concerned board member.

In yet another conversation, one of the Directors of the Board has written President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, pleading with him not to allow nepotism and cronyism to reign in the appointment of senior public officers.

"Please Mr President, try to re-evaluate this decision as it is against your vision, policy of equity because the process lacked integrity and honesty," reads the text to Chakwera.

Recently, a concerned member of staff at TEVETA sought a court injunction from the Mzuzu High Court to stop the appointment of Sichiola as CEO.

The court is yet to hear the plaintiff on the matter, but Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zanga Zanga Chikhosi has since directed the nullification of the appointment and ordered for re-advertisement of the position.

Subsequent WhatsApp chats, which Nyasa Times has seen, confirm of the pressure the State House officials exerted on the board to give the job to Sichiola.

TEVETA Board Chairperson Don Whayo denied receiving instructions from the State House on who should fill TEVETA's big shoes after Makulumiza Nkhoma.

"The interviews were professionally and ethically conducted. You may come and check the records at our offices," claimed Whayo in a brief phone interview with Nyasa Times.

TEVETA is the root of growth and economic development of a country and to head such an institution, one must have the right training, orientation, focus, zest, innovativeness, technical expertise and right experience.

Malawi can move forward only if it has a strong government and institutions where right people are placed in the right positions.

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