Allegations of irregularities, nepotism, tribalism, abuse of office, maladministration rock Blantyre Water Board

By Duncan Mlanjira

The Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma has opened investigation on allegations irregularities, nepotism, tribalism, abuse of office, maladministration and irregular recruitment of staff including that of chief executive officer (CEO), Daniel Chaweza at Blantyre Water Board (BWB).

This is being done under section 1.23 of the Constitution and section 5 of the Ombudsman Act, which mandates her office to investigate cases of alleged injustice, abuse of power, unfair rreatment and unreasonable, unfair and unjust discharge of duty by any public officer or public office.

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma

Chizuma says her office is in receipt of a complaint that Chaweza was irregularly recruited as CEO yet he is alleged not to have passed recruitment interviews but r.was still given the post because of his affiliation with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — the then ruling party.

“The complaint goes further to state that you attained position 4 in the interviews and the person ho achieved position 1 was Mr. Henry Bakuwa.”

The post of director of administration and human resources, occupied by Anne Chipaka was irregular and questionable as she was once a BWB board member and by virtue of thereof was the chairperson of the human resource and administration committee of the Board.

Daniel Chaweza

“In that post as chairperson she took part in the restructuring of Blantyre Water Board that resulted in the creation of the position of Director of Administration and Human Resource,” says Chizuma.

“Further, as chairperson she participated in the recruitment of yourself as CEO. Nevertheless, yourself as CEO recruited her whilst the board was dissolved and her appointment was not ratified by the board when it was later appointed.”

The Ombudsman further says it is alleged that Chaweza transferred staff members without consent and consultation because he wantcd to put his friends and relatives in their positions.

The staff transferred were FIenry Bakuwa, who was director of finance but was transferred to Malawi Gaming Board because he comes from Dedza and thus was suspected to be linked to the opposition.

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Andrew Puleni, the procurement and disposal Manager was transferred to the position of administration manager which does not exist and as he comes from the Lower Shire he was,mtherefore considered to be supporter of the Opposition.

“Secondly because he was not acceptine dirty deals that the you wanted him to do and thirdly, he was not liked by the Mhlakho cultural group, which was not getting special favours.”

The complaint further says Priscilla Mateyo, employee as public relations officer and was transferred to kiosk management because she comes from the Lower Shire and that Ruth Gama was working as internal audit manager and was transferred without follorving procedures.

Other irregular transfers involved Joel Chigoneka (revenue manager); Munisha and Muyaya.

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The complaint further says in his capacity as CEO, Chaweza recruited certain staff for no other good reason but for just being affiliated to DPP or because they are related to himself.

The staff that were  recruited based on these factors are include Anne Chipaka because she was a senior member of DPP; Finley Metani (Chaweza’s nephew who comes from Phalombe) and another of his nephew Francis Chiwalo (recruited as chief accountant).

“The complaint further alleges that Mr Metani and Mr Chiwalo were responsible for syphoning money from Blantyre Water Board for DPP activities.”

There are also allegations of irregularities demotions without following disciplinary procedures for Jennings Samu from who was human resources manager human resource officer and Owen Tanga from revenu manager to transport manager — a post that does not exist on the organogram while Charles Msusa, who was chief accountant was demoted to the position of zone accountant.

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“The complaint alleges that two DPP supporters —  Makwinja and Bambana were recruited as stores clerk and transport clerk respectively without following procedures and despite not being qualified for the job.

“The allegation further states that both of them were councillors in Mulanie standing on DPP ticket but lost in May 2019 elections and not qualified for their respective positions.

“They operated more like DPP spies and thus their superiors could not lead or discipline them as they were basically spies for DPP and the leaders were afraid of dismissals.”

The 6th charge is that of unfair dismissal of director of distribution and commerce for being considered to be a member of the opposition since one of his parents comes from Ntcheu; Evans Mandande -assistant human resource officer because he was considered to be a United Transformation Movement (UTM) member.

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“However, another one of your employees Mr. Brave Mkwezalamba was

filmed conducting a DPP campaign but was not dismissed but rather rewarded with a promotion.

The complaint alleges that Mr Brave Mkwezalamba was promoted because he is a deputy director of operations in DPP. He states that he moved from grade 8 to grade 4.

“I would therefore like to solicit your comprehensive response to each of the allegations above and for avoidance of doubt I would like your comments to touch on the recruitment process that was used for each of the positions in question i.e. the declararion of the vacancy, the adverts for the position, the shortlisting process, the interview process and the offer as well as your acceptance letters.

“As for allegation on your employment of CEO, I shall expect that you provide me with a submission and record of your whole recruitment process which shall include your application letter, interview reports and also offer letter and acceptance letter.

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“Regarding the transfers, demotions and dismissals I would like you to inform me the reasons behind these actions and the procedures and processes you followed when you undertook them.

“As for the bias in promotion, I shall expect the full employment record of Mr. Brace Mkwezalamba from the date of his emplovment todate.

“Pursuant to section 124 of the Constitution supporting documentation should be provided together with your response by 29th October, 2020.”

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