The Malawi government has been ordered by the high court to furnish an offer letter to a nurse who passed her job interviews successfully but was denied an offer letter because the Ministry of Health told her that she had lost her chance of employment.
Isabel Tekwatekwa, the nurse, went for her interviews on 22nd April 2020 for the position of a nursing officer (Grade H-1). The site of the interview was Nkhotakota Secondary School.
As far as the outcome of the interview is concerned, she never heard from the Secretary of health or the Health Service Commission. However, in June of 2021, her friends who were at the Kamuzu Central Hospital informed her that her name was on the list of newly recruited health workers posted to that hospital.
Tekwatekwa met Ms. Gulule from the Health Ministry who had come to Kamuzu Hospital for a headcount on the orders of the Health Service Commission as well as the Health Secretary.
Gulule told the nurse that the offer letter had been prepared, but the Health Service Commission and the Health Ministry had failed to make sure that it was delivered to her.
“Ms Gulule further advised Ms Tekwatekwa that because the offer letter lapsed after 14 days, there were no current offers that she could take up. She was further advised to wait it out till the next round of interviews that the Health Service Commission would conduct in July of 2021”, observed the court.
Ms Tekwatekwa was represented in court by Khumbo Soko for free, who requested a judicial review on the grounds that requiring a fresh interview while she was successful in the previous one was unjust as well as prejudicial.
Ms Tekwatekwa prayed for a declaration that the respondents who were in this case the Health Commission as well as the Health Secretary omitted to send her a letter of appointment was absolutely unconstitutional and that it violated several sections like 4, 12, 13, 14, 15, 28,29,30,31, and 43 of the constitution of the country.
She additionally prayed that it be declared that the Respondent’s omission to furnish her with a letter of appointment was not legal and that it contravened section 3(a) of the PSA (Public Service Act) and the Regulation 1:108 of the Malawi Public Service Regulations.
She again sued for a declaration that by taking the position of an offer of appointment in public service that was never delivered and additionally lapsed after 14 days of issue, the Respondents had misdirected her and committed a grave law error.
She also asked for a consequential order which directed the respondents to issue a letter that would offer her an appointment as a Nursing officer (Grade 1-H) 14 days from the court order date.
Yesterday the court ruled in her favour on all the grounds that she pleaded on, and ordered the government of Malawi to send Tekwateka a letter of conditional appointment based on probation, that would offer her the post of a nursing officer (Grade H) within the next 30 days.
Onjezani Kenani who is a social commentator, expressed his gratitude to Counsel Khumbo Soko for standing up for the people. Kenani said that he was glad that the court had done the right thing by compelling the relevant offices to do what was right and give Tekwateka a job that she rightfully deserves. ,