Kabambe advises unsuspecting landlords to be on high alert over their lent out properties
* LWB doesn’t care whether he honoured penalties on behalf of the tenant
By Duncan Mlanjira
Former Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor, Dr. Dalitso Kabambe is deeply disheartened for still being persecuted as being one 68 people who have been labeled as ‘stealing’ water from Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) through illegal connection when he had personally sorted out the issue which was done by his tenant.
Kabambe’s name is still contained in the ‘Name and Shame’ list that has been released by LWB and the water utility company says it maintains “the persons confirmed with illegal water connections irrespective of payment of the penalties for reason of deterring would be offenders”.
However, Kabambe explains that the house in question was built between 2006 and 2010 and that water connection was post paid from 2006 to date.
He adds that he briefly stayed in this House between 2010 and 2014 and since then three other tenants have used the house.
“The illegal connection was noticed on April this year on one of outside taps, otherwise, the rest of the house was getting water that was going through the meter with bills of over K100,000 monthly.
“As such, one could not detect that one of the outside taps was illegally connected.”
Kabambe continued to say that a team from LWB that was going round doing checking functionality of water meters, discovered the anomaly which was brought to his attention.
“We were told to pay a total sum of K1.6 million as penalty plus other charges otherwise, they were to disconnect the water. That amount was paid on the same day and the annomally was corrected.
“The water was also reconnected after a brief disconnection. The tap that was illegally connected was also restored to its legal status the same day,” Kabambe said.
He disclosed that his last tenant was an Indian investor who has since returned to his home country.
Thus Kabambe advises other unsuspecting property owners to continuously assess their houses rented out to tenants to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment he has experienced.
“This is now one of the challenges we have learnt of owning properties which are rented out to tenants,” he said.
“Apart from the usual problems of non-payment of rentals on time and sometimes causing serious damages to the property or using rented properties for illegal activities, here is a case that a tenant may alter piping or electrical installations.
“It’s a lesson to all landlords to keep checking these things. Otherwise, I had to ask the team to check my other rented property just in case there is also a problem of similar nature.”
Asked why Kabambe’s name is still contained in the ‘Name and Shame’ list that has been released by LWB despite him honouring the penalties that were paid and water was reinstalled, public relations officer, Maurice Nkawihe said they “would not want to comment more than what we have already published in the papers”.
He added that the persons confirmed the ‘Name and Shame’ with illegal water connections is “irrespective of payment of the penalties for the reason of deterring would be offenders”.
“LWB is fighting water losses which currently is at 42% of what we produce,” Nkawihe told Maravi Express. “One way we lose water is through water theft where customers make connections to avoid water bills.
“Once we confirm an illegal connection, administratively, we charge penalties to recover what was lost and to deter would be offenders. Since water theft is a criminal offence, law enforcers (Malawi Police) are also involved and do prosecute the cases accordingly.”
In its scathing press statement, LWB stated that the cases have already been reported to the police custody and awaiting prosecution in the court of law and those found guilty would be jailed for five years according to section 298 (8) of the penal code which criminalize water theft.
From the total of 68 illegal water connections, LWB is reported to have collected K47.3 from the penalties.
Life after RBM Governor, Kabambe — an accomplished economist, banker and politician, who served as the 13th Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi from 2017 until 2020 — comes in the spotlight following his joining active politics in December 2020 as a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
He is touted to face DPP controversial leader of opposition, Kondwani Nankhumwa and Joseph Mwanamvekha in the race for DPP’s president, who will eventually become the party’s torch bearer in 2025 general election.