KABUL (MoHE) officials have been dismissed illegally and through deceitful suggestions to the president, Pajhwok Afghan News learned reliably.
Mohammad Issa Salehi, head of the MoHE internal audit department, Mohammad Azeem Noor Bakhsh, head of the broadcasting, Abdul Munir Mahro, head of the planning and policy and Mohammad Yasin Naeemi, head of the minister office, have been dismissed against the law and replaced by new faces.
The four dismissed officials have since been knocking at the doors of the three state pillars— Parliament, Executive and Judiciary — and final decisions from the three pillars came out in favour of the dismissed officials but none of these decisions were implemented.
The MoHE ignored official letters from the three government pillars regarding replacement or provision of similar posts to these four officials.
The ministry, however, posted three of them in second grade positions in provinces, but the fate of one Mohammad Azeem Noor Balkhsh remains undecided.
Documents regarding illegal dismissal
Documents available with Pajhwok Afghan News show that Farida Momand, former higher education minister, through recommendation letters No. 95 dated Jun 15, 2015 and No. 39 dated April 6, 2016 to the Presidential Palace had demanded dismissal of the four senior officials of the ministry and the president had also approved these letters.
The Complaint Assessment Board of the Independent Civil Services and Administrative Reform Commission (ICSARC) through a letter No. 11379 dated September 19, 2016 had informed the MoHE human resource department about complaints and corruption in a nine-page document, urging the ministry to address these complaints, suspend these government positions in the ministry and report back to them.
On the contrary, during the litigation, the officials of the Human Resources Department illegally changed the claimant and did not investigate the cases of widespread corruption at higher education institutions and the text of the complaint and acted against the law.
Resolution No. 887 of ICSARC’s Complaints Assessment Board
The fact remains that dismissal of the four MoHE officials happened against the law and the MoHE is accused of not implementing orders and laws of the Resolution No. 887 dated 17 July 2018 of the Complaint Assessment Board and against the clause 1 of article 19 of the Civil Servants Law.
The Resolution maintains: “It is necessary to request the Presidential Palace in accordance with the law regarding their dismissal and job security of the dismissed officials. No such action has been taken by the Department of Human Resources of MoHE.”
Wolesi Jirga Legislative Affairs Commission
A letter No. 138 dated July 22, 2018 says that documents of Mohammad Issa, Mohammad Yasin and Abdul Munir were discussed in a meeting dated July 12, 2018 and it was decided that: “Since the temporary dismissal has no legal status, we hope that on the basis of the ICSARC Compliant Assessment Board Resolution, the above nominees to the Presidential Palace shall be resonated to their previous positions.”
Kabul’s First Municipality District’s Primary Court:
Since the MoHE in violation of the law referred the four dismissed officials to the provincial assistant positions based on letter No. 4786 dated December 2, 2018 to ICSARC, the dismissed officials have been referred to the concerned court and the court issued the following decision.
The judicial remark 13 “The MoHE acted against the Civil Servants Law of the ICSARC. Employees during their work have full job security and concerned authority without legal reason has no authority of dismissal. Since the Complaint Assessment Board has addressed their complaints and concluded that these individuals shall be reinstated to their previous position or similar position in any other government institution, the MoHE is asked to ensure that the above orders are implemented in the spirit of law.”
Justice minister’s recommendation to the president:
Despite the fact that the MoHE and its Human Resource Department had acted against the court order and Complaint Assessment Board Resolution, a joint delegation on the implementation of law and court orders referred the matter to the Kabul Legal Department and from there to the Ministry of Justice in a letter No. 2399 dated Aug, 12, 2020 on the address of the Presidential Palace. The letter has been dispatched, but it is yet to reach the president for his remarks.
The suggestion floated to the president by former minister of justice Abdul Basir Anwar says the ministry leadership had previously deceived him through an illegal proposal and that they wanted to do the same instead of resolving the issue.
The ministry said it had assigned the four officers with similar positions in provinces, where no such posts existed. Their previous positions were currently being held by acting officer, the minister informed Ghani.
The suggestion reads: “The decree-implementing board’s opinion is that high Presidential Palace officials and law violators should be warned against trying to deceive the authorities and flouting court rulings.”
Other documents also suggest the illegality of the dismissal and reshuffle of senior officials. This Pajhwok report is reliant on these documents.
Views of fired & transferred officers
The officers insist they have done their jobs, but they have fallen victims to the bias of their former bosses because of their integrity and determined efforts to banish corruption.
According to them, thousands of dollars have been spent on their training abroad and they have been able to discharge their duties well.
However, the ministry’s former leaders, by deceiving the president, appointed to the posts their subordinates, who had no experience, in contravention of the Civil Service Law.
Mohammad Issa Salehi, former head of MoHE’s internal audit department, slammed his dismissal by Farida Momand, former minister of higher education, as biased. While heading the audit department, he detected wide-spread corruption in higher education institutes.
His findings included unlawful appointments by the Human Resource Department, sale of education documents, forgery of documents, enrolment of ghost students, recognition of illegal higher education institutes, and corruption in the Faculty of Geology at the Kabul University.
He said after he proved cases of corruption, the ministry leadership concealed the findings of the internal audit and dithered on initiating legal action.
“But the report I had painstakingly prepared about corruption in the ministry was not scrutinised and I scapegoated and fired illegally.”
He claimed exposing the illegal actions of the ministry bosses. But, unfortunately, no legal action was taken, Salehi regretted, urging President Ghani to implement the rule of law, ensure justice, address widespread corruption in MoHE and consider the proposal from the Ministry of Justice, dated August 12, 2020 (1399/05/22) regarding the report of the decree-implementing board.
Mohammad Azeem Noor Bakhsh, head of the MoHE publication section and currently a professor at the Kabul University’s Faculty of Journalism, said he discharged his duty honestly at the ministry. But he was fired for his refusal to serve the personnel interests of his previous bosses.
He denounced Farida Momand, former minister of higher education, saying he had found his way to the post through open competition. However, he alleged, a non-professional person was appointed to replace him.
Noor Bakhsh said he had approached the MoHE leadership several times to know the reason for his dismissal, But he was not given a satisfactory answer, he complained.
Noor Bakhsh called on the president and the relevant institutions to prosecute those who had dismissed them illegally and ensure justice for them.
Abdul Munir Mahro, head of planning and policy, slammed Farida Momand’s suggestion for the dismissals contrary to Article 19 of the Civil Service Law. He said no one reserved the right to dismiss a government servant without a negative annual evaluation and meeting other legal formalities.
He added even if the evaluation also took place and the employee’s score remained poor, he/she should be re-evaluated for another year. But the four officials had fared well in the annual evaluation in terms of performing their duties.
Mehro said the proposal sent to the president did not mention that the officers had been given the posts on the basis of merit/open competition.
He explained, “When we raised our voices, Farida Momand was in power, our voices were not heard, but there are still vacancies in Kabul.”
The court ruling and delegation’s view:
Nawir Ahmad Sahai, legal and security adviser to the Kabul governor and a representative of the court’s enforcement panel, termed the dismissal and transfer of the MoHE directors as illegal, saying that according to the court’s order, the directors should be replaced by former ones or recommended for similar posts.
He added that implementation of the court’s orders followed legal process and should be enforced within 15 to 20 days after notification as per the law. “But unfortunately the court order has not been implemented as yet.”
He stressed the directors should have been recommended to their pervious or similar posts, but unfortunately instead of director posts in Kabul, several deputy director posts had been recommended in provinces, which had no similarity with their pervious jobs.
This decision did not satisfy the court and the decision had been repeated several times. However, no attention was paid to this issue and now the delegation has sent the issue to the clients through a proposal to take the matter to the President.
Humaira Ayubi, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga’s 16th term and a former member of the MoHE commission, said the MoHE directors had been dismissed in agreement with the president against the Civil Service Law.
She strongly criticized President Ghani for approving the illegal proposal of former Minister of Higher Education Farida Momand, saying that the President himself had not fulfilled his promise to “protect civil servants.”
She said, “The president of Afghanistan has no respect for the Constitution because the minister had complained about her director and the president signed his resignation, this culture must be eliminated.”
Ayubi further said Farida Momand’s relationship worsened with the Wolesi Jirga after she was unable to provider her answer to MoE and MoHE commissions of the Wolesi Jirga, therefore she could not get a vote of confidence from the Wolesi Jirga.
According to her, she has repeatedly asked the former Minister of Higher Education and the Administrative Reform Commission to address the problem but unfortunately the problem remained unaddressed.
She said the above problems existed not only in MoHE, but in all government organizations
Farida Momand’s comment
Former Minister of Higher Education Farida Momand said she had not made any appointment or dismissal without any reason or against the law.
She added that some of the above directors had been reassigned to other places as it was a requirement and those who were teachers were still teaching.
When asked whether Mohammad Isa Salehi was appointed on the basis of his relationship with the ministers, she said he had taught in some private universities but he did not meet the requirements of the Department of Teaching and Inspection and had been paid with extraordinary order of the president.
However, documents obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News show the Independent Civil Services and Administrative Reform Commission (ICSARC) has sent a proposal to the President about Mohammad Isa Salehi, who successfully passed the exam and obtained standard marks through an open competition.
The MoHE requested his nomination for the second rank as the director of internal inspection, which was approved by Presidential through decree No. 4507 on 7/8/7.
Momand called the appointment of directors as the right of ministers.
She said that there had been a number of complaints and the directors were dismissed and transformed to strengthen the affairs, not for personal interest.
She denied the president’s negligence, saying how could the president be deceived by false statements? Any education offer from the Administration Affairs Office had been checked and the appointment and dismissal had been done after serious investigation.
However, the MoHE has said the former directors were dismissed and transformed as there were concerns about their performance at the time, so they were replaced through a transparent process.
Hamid Obaidi, MoHE spokesman, said a number of sacked directors still served in the higher education system and some of them served as finance and administrative assistants in provincial universities.
Latifullah Mahmood, spokesman for the Government Media and Information Center (GMIG), said that one of the above directors, Ustad Mohammad AzimNoorbakhsh, continued as lecturer at the Kabul University and according to the law, he has been introduced to Kazakhstan to pursue “doctorate” for privileges.
He said after the assessment, former director of internal audit Mohammad Isa Salehi, former director of planning and policy Abdul MunirMehrur and former staff chief Mohammad YasinNaeemi and three other directors have been appointed to the same posts and they are currently workers of the MoHE.
This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.