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Power abuse fears at Blantyre Water Board

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Reyneck Matemba

Details have emerged of public finance mismanagement at Blantyre Water Board (BWB) involving its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Daniel Chaweza.

According to documents The Daily Times has seen, from September 2019, Chaweza has been drawing additional 600 litres of fuel on top of his allocation of 500 litres per month using fuel card number 22613.

Chaweza also allegedly single-handedly sold a house which was legally owned by BWB.

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The CEO confirmed drawing the additional fuel but said it was only for months he travelled longer distances.

“It is true that we are allocated fuel but when we travel longer distances, we are allocated additional fuel. It is not that we were drawing the fuel every month but it was dependent on how often you travel such distances,” he said.

While Chaweza said he was not drawing the additional fuel every month, a memo from Human Resource and Administration Manager Lawrence Kadzitche to the Director of Finance dated September 17, 2019 indicates that the fuel was to be accredited to this card every month.

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“At its sitting of 17 September 2019, Executive Management agreed to introduce a fuel card for unplanned external trips by the Chief Executive to the value of 600 litres per month.

“To this effect, please authorise creation of this card and loading for the same for the month of September 2019 and thereafter monthly top-ups of 600 litres of diesel,” reads the memo.

Resultantly, a fuel allowance sheet for the month of December 2019 approved by Francois Chiwalo, who is the Chief Accountant, indicates Chaweza got 1,100 litres of fuel valued at K1,023,000 instead of his allocation of 500 litres.

The additional fuel for Chaweza’s ‘long trips’ is not provided for in his conditions of service and there is no evidence that his contract was revised at any time to reflect the addition.

Additionally, BWB has a fuel pump within its premises where employees gets the additional fuel for such trips.

On the house, details indicate that while he was Director of Commerce and Distribution, Chaweza bought a house in Manja using a K10 million loan he obtained from the board and title deeds of the house were allegedly in BWB’s name at least until such a time he was to finish servicing the loan.

Chaweza, however, allegedly managed to get hold of the deeds and single-handedly sold the house before he finished paying the money and left the board.

The Daily Times understands that when the issue resurfaced after he was re-engaged now as CEO, he has resumed servicing the loan but the house’s title deeds are not with the board.

Chaweza confirmed selling the house before finishing servicing the loan saying what matters is that he is back and servicing the loan he obtained.

“I left at that time because there were issues. Fortunately for me I am still with Blantyre Water Board and I am servicing the loan and there is no issue here,” he said.

Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Reyneck Matemba said was not aware of the issue. “It has not being brought to our attention,” he said

These details have come hot on the heels of allegations of irregular recruitment of Chaweza himself and BWB Director of Administration and Human Resources Anne Chipaka; irregular transfer and demotion of some staff; unfair dismissals of Verson Kafodya and Evance Mandande as well as nepotism and tribalism through the employment of relatives, friends and DPP supporters which Ombudsman Martha Chizombo is investigating.

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