The European Investment Bank (EIB) has written the Ministry of Finance, expressing concern over the way government hired Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Godfrey Itaye.
In a letter from Luxembourg dated October 7 to Finance Minister, Felix Mlusu, EIB has also urged government to ensure that another senior officer at LWB, Sinosi Maliano who is facing charges by the EIB’s Fraud and Investigations Division, should not be involved in the Lilongwe Drought Resilience Programme financed by the bank.
EIB Head of Sub- Sahara Africa Division, Diederick Zambon and Senior Investment Officer, Jim Hodges, state that in a joint letter with the World Bank in March this year, they raised concerns over the management change at LWB and sought the assurance of government’s commitment to upholding the principles of good corporate governance in handling issues concerning water utility companies in the country.
“On 9th April 2020, we received written assurances from the Ministry of Finance that the new Chief Executive Officer for Lilongwe Water Board would be competitively recruited and that the EIB and the World Bank would be updated once the recruitment process is completed.
“Unfortunately, we did not receive such an update and consequently it is difficult to determine if a competitive recruitment process was undertaken,” reads the letter in part.
The EIB says it was disappointed to hear recently that Itaye was arrested and may be facing criminal charges.
“This development of course causes us considerable concern. As previously mentioned, we are in the process of obtaining approval from the EIB Executive Management for the financing of TWIII and hoped to conclude a finance contract with the Ministry of Finance by the end of the year.
“However, the charges raised against the Chief Executive Officer of Lilongwe Water Board will negatively impact our ability to conclude the finance contract with the Ministry of Finance as we are unable to have persons under criminal charges involved in our projects, particularly given the relatively recent incident as outlined above,” EIB says.
The bank has since asked Treasury to furnish it with the potential charges Itaye may face and actions that Treasury is taking to remedy the situation.
“We look forward to receiving the information in the very near future given the need to commence work on the water treatment plant,” reads part of the letter.
Treasury Spokesperson, Williams Banda, asked for more time before he could comment on the matter.
Fiscal Police early last month arrested Itaye before releasing him on police bail for alleged abuse of office and fraud when he was CEO of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra).
Itaye is being accused of playing a part in the procurement of K135 million Macra calendars as well as buying cloth for former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Meanwhile Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has written Secretary to President and Cabinet, Zangazanga Chikhosi, to act on the matter with speed.
In a letter dated October 11, HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence and National Coordinator, Luke Tembo, said the country cannot allow a few individuals to hold Malawi to ransom.
HRDC says Malawians strongly feel that they should not wait for donors to tell them to do what is right.
“There are so many of such cases of suspects still holding critical positions in government. HRDC thinks government and its law enforcement agencies are slow in acting on them. Your office, Sir, ought to be aware of people in the public service who were recruited or promoted without following procedures.
“There are numerous examples of public officers who actively participated in politics including donning political party cloth. These people are still in the public service. We wonder how you expect to drain the swamp with these kinds of people in critical government positions,” the letter reads.
Chikhosi and Itaye were not immediately available for comment Sunday.