Management Circus At MRA:Creates 83 New Managerial Posts, Salaries Doubled….As CEO John Bizwik Accused Of Nepotism, Gross Maladministration
When Joyce Banda scavenged John Bizwik from NBS bank to head the Malawi Revenue Authority, she thought she had found a messiah to breath a new lease of life to the organization and possibly take it to a much higher plane.
Well, it turned out it was all fantasy because within a few months of his appointment, the messiah has found himself nose-deep in a management conundrum that is slowly but steadily taking the organization into a cesspool of nepotism and gross maladministration.
Reports are beginning to emerge on how the new Commissioner General has practically turned the tax collecting body into a personal fiefdom where he is having his way without regard to laid-down procedures. Many employees confided to this writer of their frustrations and demoralization at the systematic nepotism that has now become synonymous with MRA.
It is alleged that Mr. Bizwik is throwing his weight around as Commissioner General to de-regulate responsibilities and create proxy posts for People’s Party functionaries as well as girlfriends. Some managerial posts previously held by single managers have deliberately been broken down into several meaningless management units just to create openings for compatriots.
One manager who spoke on condition of anonymity said many employees now fear for their jobs because there is no integrity in the manner people are being employed or removed from their positions by Mr. Bizwik. “For instance, there are two Commissioners; one responsible for imports and another for exports, when one Commissioner and a few departmental heads to handle different operation units can effectively do the job. This could save the huge salary plus benefits wasted on a big post like that of Commissioner,” he said.
There are also six people all employed as Human Resources Managers, apparently taking care of various human resources functions that many have said can be handled by two managers. The Public Relation department has also not been spared. The authority has hired more than eight people to do a job that can, under normal circumstances, been handled by a manager and an assistant.
In total MRA has created more than 83 new managerial posts whose responsibilities one cannot immediately define, a scenario that smacks more of chaos than management order. The new managers have also had their wages almost doubled, further raising the organization’s wage bill to astronomical levels – a hoof not in tandem with Joyce Banda’s much touted lip song of austerity measures, and likely to hurt the economy in the long run.
The new boss is also alleged to be disregarding procedures in the way he is hiring new employees. People are being employed without going through proper interviews or putting them through probation as per requirement. “One lady, Derby Tsirizani, who we suspect to be girlfriend to Mr. Bizwik was hired and confirmed as Human Resources Consultant within two months.
Tsirizani, who is married, was even promoted to Projects Manager responsible for one of the many phonily created projects at the Revenue Authority. This tendency has never happened here in as far as we know,” Complained another long-serving employee who also spoke anonymously, adding: “This has left many of use demoralized to the extent that we are just coming to work to laze about and wait for pay day. We don’t feel like working anymore.”
Mr. Bizwik’s accomplice in this sordid affair is another Joyce Banda’s appointee, Mrs. Katsonga, the current Director of Taxes and Customs and wife to Mark Katsonga, president of Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM). Mrs Katsonga, who previously worked for the Authority and was removed, has created her own ring within the organization consisting her loyalists whose main purpose is to penalize importers and businesses deemed to be sympathetic to opposition.
Surprisingly, the people that she is employing are all from one region – the northern region -something that has raised eyebrows at wagged a lot of tongues. It has also raised questions about the integrity of the “task force” under whose alias the people are being employed. Mrs. Katsonga’s conduct is also said to have infuriated Joyce Banda to the extent that she summoned her for explanation. The President is said to have demanded to know why Mrs. Katsonga is only employing people from the northern region when there are equally qualified people from other regions who can take up the jobs through an equitable employment process.
A source confirmed that the president accused Mrs. Katsonga of contributing to her dwindling popularity in the southern region, the all important region crucial to winning the election next year. “The president feels people like Mrs. Katsonga are the ones that continue to anger people from the southern region and continue to fuel the perception that her government is for northerners,” said the source.
The current government’s tax policy has been criticized for being the most insensitive and punitive in this part of Africa. They recon it leaves no breathing space and punishes ordinary Malawians whilst offering long tax holidays to fat cats and big international mining conglomerates. The Malawi Revenue Authority is the main implementing agency of tax policy in Malawi.