THREE senior managers and two employees have been dismissed at SOS Children’s Village in a confusion that has rocked the international organisation involving senior managers and the new national director.
SOS deputy national director Mwamba Mutale, human resource manager Victor Lolozi and acting financial controller Clarence Mwami have been fired on various charges.
Apart from the three, two other employees, one from Livingstone and the other from Lusaka, have also been dismissed for allegedly challenging Mr Mutale’s decisions.
Board chairperson Geoffrey Chipota, who admitted that the relationship between senior managers and national director Bwalya Melu had soured, said an independent committee recommended for the dismissals.
But dismissed employees said the termination of their jobs had been instigated by Mr Melu whom they accused of being a dictator at the organisation.
There is fear that the confusion may paralyse operations at the institution, which has also faced accusations of emotional abuse of children at its Village in Kitwe on the Copperbelt.
Mr Melu has only been in charge of the organisation for less than one year now but his reign has been characterised by accusations of intimidation and victimisation of employees.
Although Mr Melu retains the support of the board, he has struggled to command respect from some senior management officials who have questioned the process of his recruitment and accused the Board of being compromised.
“He has told us that he can fire anyone and the board will not do anything,” said one of the dismissed employees. “And this has been proved because all these dismissals are happening while the board is just watching.”
According to documents obtained by the Sunday Times, five managers had asked for mutual separation from the organisation citing unfriendly environment between managers and the national director.
But Mr Mutale said the dismissals had nothing to do with the mutual separation requested by the managers because they had been charged with various offences ranging from gross misconduct to fraud.
He said in an interview that the managers had asked for mutual separation through the board chairperson, which was against the conditions of service.
According to the documents, Mr Mutale was charged with negligence for allegedly turning a blind eye to child abuse allegedly perpetrated by SOS Village Kitwe director Victor Chileshe.
“On 5th July I wrote to Mr Mutale to ask him if he was aware about the emotional abuse of children in Kitwe since he was the immediate supervisor,” Mr Melu said.
“But his response was very personal instead of addressing the matter at hand, so I charged him on 26th August for negligence because he was supposed to take action against the officer in Kitwe.”
However, documents revealed that Mr Mutale and other four managers requested for premature retirement five days before he was charged by his superior.