This article drawn from years of undercover private investigations through a chain of sources, is aimed at demonstrating how Blantyre Water Board, one of the water utility companies in Malawi, has been struggling over the past few years, and uncovers the personnel that have played major roles. The article contains some hints on actions of certain individuals who have mercilessly abused their positions to milk the Board for their own gain, and forgot their responsibility and mandate to serve the people of Malawi. These individuals prioritised enriching themselves rather than serving the populace. The information provided can be verified by experts to ascertain authenticity, and probably actions to be taken to ensure that corrective measures are deployed.
The whistle blower has been following with keen interest the stories surrounding Blantyre Water Board especially the recent spilt “anonymous letters” which some purported “BWB Concerned Employees” wrote and sent to various high offices including the Office of the Vice President, Department of Statutory Corporations, the ACB and the Ombudsman, just to mention a few. From the writings, one would definitely see that the letters were written out of malice, hate and revenge against certain individuals within Blantyre Water Board of which the main target was the CEO, Daniel Chaweza. It was also strange to note that the anonymous letters were authored just after the Tonse Alliance got into Government, and at the time the contract of Chaweza was about to expire. One would therefore smell a rat on how these were connected.
The whistleblower had the hope that the new instituted Board for Blantyre Water Board headed by Mr George Nnensa would handle such matters with ultimate professionalism to avoid victimising innocent people. Unfortunately, the new Board seems to listen and act based on stereotypical manuscripts and unfounded social commentaries to solve the problems at Blantyre Water Board without thorough research on the core issues surrounding the allegations.
The whistleblower has learned with much regret the removal of Daniel Chaweza as the CEO of Blantyre Water Board immediately after the Board commenced its work. Looking at the Board members calibre, it was expected that the team would be professional enough to examine all angles of the stories before they came to that decision. Perhaps the team was just abiding by what Dr Lazarus Chakwera recently said about “clearing the rubble.” I am afraid to mention that it will be erroneous to conclude that the “rot” that has been happening in MDAs was solely orchestrated by persons associated with the then ruling party. If Blantyre Water Board’s Board members took their time to review the past performance of the Board, they would discover that it was the same crop calling themselves “Sympathisers of the Tonse Government” who plundered Blantyre Water Board and made it as it is today. If it was not for Chaweza, the company would have been buried by now.
With a heavy heart, and seeing the direction the Board is taking, the whistleblower would like to put to your attention the individuals of concern that brought down the performance of the Board since 2014. The whistleblower has the gut feeling that it is these same people that have gone underground to drive out Daniel Chaweza. It is the same people who are also geared to expel some professionals listed in their anonymous letters. While the whistleblower does not condone nepotism, fraud and maladministration, it is unfair to punish wrong people for the poor performance of the Board while the real culprits are left scot-free. This article therefore gives a snapshot of the masterminds behind the anonymous letters purportedly authored by “Concerned BWB Employees.” It is up to the authorities ‘ to take it, or leave it.’ My advice to the Board Chair, Mr Nnensa is that he should know that within his team, there are some agents that are working underground with these failed individuals to gain their way back into Blantyre Water Board so that they continue to plunder the Board.
‘The Genesis of BWB’s Poor Performance’
For starters, Blantyre Water Board performance started dwindling when its pumping equipment became of age which resulted in frequent breakdowns further leading to erratic water supply in the City of Blantyre. In late 2009, the Board had secured funding from the European Union and European Investment Bank to rehabilitate its pumping stations located on Shire River and in Chileka. A few years later, the World Bank pumped in funds to rehabilitate other stations and construct additional water storage tanks.
During this period, BWB was being led by Eng. Andrew Thawe. These projects spanned from 2009 to 2015. Eng. Thawe managed to resuscitate the performance of the Board bringing it from its loss-making position to break-even. When he was exiting in 2014, the performance had significantly improved. The Board had enough money to run its business. It managed to clear all its overdraft holes. It managed to pay its electricity bills. It started thriving.
‘Exit Thawe, Enter Henri Bakuwa’
When Andrew Thawe unceremoniously left Blantyre Water Board, of which details will be provided later in the article, the descent began. Henri Bakuwa, who was the Director of Finance and Administration at the time of Thawe, was given the responsibility to act on the position of BWB’s CEO in 2014. When he got the acting position, which he combined with his directorate position, things started turning sour. At the very beginning, he boasted on local televisions that he had transformed the Board from loss-making to a profit-making organisation. In actual sense, he inherited the good performance from Thawe.
‘How Henri Bakuwa Became Acting CEO’
Henri Bakuwa did not get the acting CEO position on a silver platter. He ‘worked’ for it. During that period, his relationship with Andrew Thawe was not cordial. Thawe heard a lot about Bakuwa’s shady deals as Director of Finance and Administration, one of which was soliciting money from suppliers and contractors in order for him to release their payments.
Bakuwa therefore started his campaign to oust Thawe. Because, he didn’t have enough weapons to succeed in this endeavour, he found an accomplice to aide him into ousting Thawe. Bakuwa saw an opportunity in another sour relationship between the then Procurement Manager, Andrew Puleni and Andrew Thawe. With the help of the Workers’ Union and some individuals within the Board, Bakuwa orchestrated the downfall of his boss. Their team composed an anonymous letter alleging bad acts of Thawe ranging from mis-procurement to maladministrative issues. With support from the Union, their plan succeeded and Thawe got booted out in September 2014. After this victory, Bakuwa used his relationship with some powerful politicians at the time to get the position of Acting CEO.
‘BWB’s Big Three’
Henri Bakuwa has a trail of bad behaviour from the organisations he has worked before. When he combined the position of CEO and Director of Finance and Administration, it became so easy for him to get what he had always longed for. In the appointment of the Internal Procurement Committee, he made sure that he had assembled a team that would ‘assist’ him accordingly. His choice of the Chairperson, was one of the ways to achieve this. He chose Mavuto Chiipanthenga, who was the Technical Director to head the Internal Procurement Committee. Andrew Puleni by default became the Secretary of the Committee.
Bakuwa used members in this committee to siphon money from the Board at different levels from small procurements, maintenance works to large procurements. Bakuwa, Andrew Puleni and Mavuto Chiipanthenga became the ‘three big fishes’ at the centre of the siphoning. The one who was collecting the spoils from suppliers and contractors was Andrew Puleni in most of the occasions. Many employees and non-employees would testify to this as Puleni and Bakuwa were visibly seen meeting suppliers and contractors at busy public places one of which was, Chichiri Shopping Mall. These three were demanding 10 percent of every contract price in cash before the delivery of goods, services and works. They even forced potential suppliers and contractors to give them kickbacks if they wanted to win contracts. As if that was not enough, the three demanded some more cuts from suppliers’ and contractors’ payment claims to ensure that their payments were released in time. They shared the money as much as over MK80 million in one go. In one of the contracts where some supplier was to supply prepaid water meters, the three got away with over MK70 Million for a contract of just over MK700 Million. There was no supplier or contractor in town who did not know about the ‘big three’. It was the talk of the town but they couldn’t air it out to responsible agencies to take action
Now let’s look at how each of the big three had contributed to the fall of the Board during and after Bakuwa’s reign.
1. HENRI BAKUWA
‘Relationship with Union Executive’
When Henri Bakuwa became Acting CEO, he worked so closely with the then BWB’s Workers Union to consolidate his power. He was actually making sure that he rewarded them for the work they had done to usher him into power. He therefore funded the Union on all its activities, and travels of its Executive Members. The Union saw this loophole and started organising different trips outside Blantyre in order to accumulate allowances. Bakuwa, too, benefited from these trips as he was also included in the trips. He could pocket allowances for meetings he never attended as long as his name was there. These facts can be verified.
‘Employee Meetings Outside Blantyre’
During Bakuwa’s time, most group meetings at the Board were taking place in Mangochi, Liwonde, Zomba and Mulanje. It was like the offices of Blantyre Water Board had been relocated to these places. He allowed these for him to benefit on two fronts: (1) by pocketing allowances, and (2) cover-up for the stealing he was doing with his colleagues. Because people were busy being face-masked with travel allowances, they couldn’t see or air out what he and his accomplices were doing.
Henri Bakuwa with his accomplices mentioned here mis-procured so may items at Blantyre Water Board and got millions out of it. If one visits Blantyre Water Board today, they would find items like pipe fittings, uniforms, water meters and others which are lying idle since 2013 because they were wrongly procured without proper technical guidance. One of the suppliers Bakuwa and his team used to siphon money was LIDO Electricals which own several businesses in Malawi. The company used to charge exorbitant prices but Bakuwa paid without even blinking an eye all because he had his share in the deals. It is said that at one point, Bakuwa single-handedly initiated the procurement of some worthless pipe fittings worth over MK300 million from LIDO Electricals, which are still lying in the stores unused up to this day.
It is also known that the same Bakuwa gave a Contract to Cindy Supplies owned by one George Macheka, who happens to be one of the Board members now, to supply pre-paid water meters which were never installed because of poor quality and missing of software and other components. However, if you go to Blantyre Water Board, you will find that George Macheka was fully paid. It is worrisome to note that the same George Macheka is amongst the Board Members of Blantyre Water Board when he delivered a raw deal to the Board. If the Board Chairperson is blind about this person, he would discover later how dangerous he is with his buddy, Bakuwa. Cindy Supplies had also been given various contracts on uniforms and advertising materials during Bakuwa’s reign. So, Mr Nnensa, Watch Out!
Because of his increased greed and the thinking that other people within the Board were doing his style, Henri Bakuwa ensured that he micro-managed all the processes at the Board especially those related to money. He used some of his ‘small aides’ to siphon money through maintenance and construction of some BWB’s infrastructure. One of his trusted aides was Evance Mandanda, who was then the Administrative Assistant at Walkers Ferry. He used this young man to construct a guest house at Walkers Ferry as a Supervisor. Evance Mandanda was being given cash to buy materials for the construction. The accountability of the payments was not there at all. It was rumoured that some of the materials supposedly meant for the guest house were diverted to construct Bakuwa’s property in Kasungu. Even the contractor who was building the guest house was also used to construct Bakuwa’s establishments in various places including Kasungu, and BWB paid for the labour.
Bakuwa did not trust his own accountants and he ensured that even petty cashes were checked and signed by him. As a result of this, his office was full of unattended-to files which filled the desk, drawers and the floor. He only dealt swiftly on files he saw would benefit him and the people he liked. This resulted in so many issues related to operations stalling because he had no time to work but strategizing on how to get the next kickbacks.
‘Dubious Payments to Contractors and Suppliers’
Using his advantage for two important spaces to put his signature, in his capacity as Controlling Officer and Director of Finance, he used to pay contractors and suppliers some payments without following procedures especially when he saw some benefit out of it. Contractors and suppliers who resisted his quest to get kickbacks were not paid for months. This can be confidently verified with all suppliers and contractors who worked for the Board during his time. Most competent suppliers and contractors vowed not to apply for supply and works contracts at BWB because Bakuwa and his team was demanding too much.
Due to the alarming levels of maladministration under Henri Bakuwa’s acting tenure, the European Investment Bank (EIB) in 2016 blacklisted Blantyre Water Board (BWB) from being a recipient of financing from the institution after an audit revealed irregularities ranging from fraud to poor documentation of project funds.
Prior to making its verdict, EIB sought an explanation from BWB on some of the irregularities rejected by the bank.
The acting chief executive Henri Bakuwa shamelessly denied receiving any communication on the project from EIB, including its existence, and lied that he had learned about new development on the said projects through the media, yet the communication had already reached his office.
“I have heard most of the issues in the media. I don’t know anything about that. Please favour me with the e-mail you were referring to,” wrote Bakuwa in a mobile phone text message.
However, in all the communication between EIB and Bakuwa, which The Nation newspaper saw, Bakuwa had been the main addressee in his capacity as Director of Finance and Administration alongside former Chief Executive, Andrew Thawe.
Those who know Bakuwa very well, know he is fond of borrowing money and items and he doesn’t pay back. During his time at BWB, despite amassing a lot of wealth from stealing, he owed the BWB Workers Union over MK4 million from the fertiliser he was given on credit to use at his farm in Kasungu. Actaully, he gave a loan to the Union to buy the fertiliser so that he would get the fertiliser from the Union. He has not yet settled this debt until now as he is broke.
He also borrowed several millions from Banks and is failing to pay. He took farming items from some agri-suppliers and has not paid back for years. He has also been struggling to pay for residual price of a car he was offered at Blantyre Water Board as he could not even manage to raise a Million Kwacha for that purpose. There are so many people out there who he still owes at the moment. One wonders how he managed the spoils he got from Blantyre Water Board up to the point of getting ngongole or katapila.
‘Change of Life When He was Acting CEO’
When Bakuwa was just a mere Director, he was very stingy (although he still is) and couldn’t even afford to pay for a modest room at hotels or lodges. On meetings outside Blantyre, he used to stay at low-level lodges despite being a senior person. Things dramatically changed when he became the acting CEO.
He was being booked at expensive hotels in high-class rooms. While this is normal for normal executives, the worst thing he was doing was drawing full allowances besides the Board meeting his full board costs at these hotels.
Bakuwa invested in some infrastructure in Kasungu and the North during the three years. He made sure that these developments are taking place outside Blantyre so that people should not suspect his shady deals at the Board. However, people who knew him very well provided information about these developments. If one goes to Kasungu Boma today, they will see his warehouses and other infrastructure there built from money stolen from the Board.
Because he concentrated much on enriching himself, Henri Bakuwa never minded of the company’s performance. He used to downplay the actual performance of the Board making people think that all was well. He continued his ‘generosity’ to employees at the time when the Board could not even manage to pay its creditors, one of the biggest, being ESCOM. People still went to conduct unnecessary meetings outside Blantyre which continued to drain the Board’s resources further.
Non-revenue water figures skyrocketed during his time, and his Technical Directors Verson Kafodya and Mavuto Chiipanthenga assisted him in doctoring figures to paint a rosy picture of the performance to Government. He grew stronger such that he could not be opposed in his decisions. He changed employee’s positions anyhow and at any small mistakes made. It is therefore surprising to note that the same person who has been accusing Chaweza, was doing the same things!
Although he tried his best to acquire the position of CEO, he never got it when he attended the interviews. His poor performance was eminent even to officials from Government. He therefore was replaced in October 2017 by Daniel Chaweza, who was a former employee of the Board. He has however been telling people that he was number one on the interview. The truth is that he had connived with some of the interview panellists to favour him. It is also rumoured that the then Vice President assisted him to get good marks on the interview as they were buddies. What on earth would someone who plunged the Board into an abyss score highly on an interview! One wonders the integrity of the interview panel.
At the time Bakuwa was leaving the acting capacity back to his director position, the Board was highly-indebted. The debt was over MK10 billion, and the revenues had dwindled significantly with high non-revenue water and low revenues. After some time, he was later transferred to Malawi Gaming Board where the game is not lucrative as it was at BWB. He is currently dying to make his come-back because he knows there is green pasture at Blantyre Water Board. The whistle blower has also found that Bakuwa saw the opportunity on the contract of one Mr Chiumia, who replaced him at the Board, to crawl back to his former organisation. This is very evil and uncalled-for if Malawi is to embrace the theoretical rhetoric of the Tonse Alliance on Malawi Okomera Tonse.
2. ANDREW PULENI
Andrew Puleni has been working as a Procurement Manager since the time of Andrew Thawe until recently when he was transferred to the Administration Department. Before joining BWB, he worked with Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC).
‘His Evil Character’
Andrew Puleni is a schemer and silent manipulator, although his methods can easily be identified by people who know him well. When he is crossed by his boss, he makes sure that the boss falls. Usually issues that make Puleni and his boss cross are to do with Procurements – if they don’t agree on ‘shares’ or if he suspects that his boss is benefiting more than him.
Andrew Puleni was behind the fall of the then General Manager at Malawi Housing Corporation during his time, Mr Golden Matiya. Although he was involved in the procurement issues that led to his boss’s removal, he came out clean using his shrewdness. It is also known that he orchestrated the removal of another parastatal CEO before he joined MHC. To those that know him well, he always keeps safe any files that would potentially implicate his boss.
He used the same weapon to bring down Andrew Thawe in 2014. He has also used the same to bring down Daniel Chaweza. To date, he has ‘successfully’ managed to overthrow four CEOs and counting! He usually thinks he is clever in his methods, but only to those who don’t know him. It is now time for him to face his fate. He can’t be ‘Mr Right’ or ‘Mr Righteous” in all these cases!
‘Receiving of Kickbacks’
Andrew Puleni was collecting money from various suppliers, service providers and contractors since he joined Blantyre Water Board. He did this either on personal capacity or on behalf of the big three at the Board.
He told suppliers and contractors that their tenders were successful because of his influence in the evaluation process. As such, they were to pay him back for the favour. He demanded 10 percent to be paid before signature of contracts. Honest suppliers and contractors who fell victim to his antics can confirm this.
‘A Bad Boss’
Because of his greed for money, Andrew Puleni never liked to work with people that showed competition whether professionally or on the receiving of kickbacks in his office. He joined BWB in 2012 but had influenced the removal or resignation of three Procurement Officers who worked directly under him in a space of 5 years. Those who can research on these individuals will know more about Andrew Puleni. He wanted to work with people that are blind.
By conniving with Henri Bakuwa and the then chair of the Internal Procurement Committee, Andrew Puleni facilitated the procurement of goods that were not critical to improve performance of the Board. Goods worth billions of Kwacha, some of which were useless, found their way into BWB Stores. These include pipe fittings, fire extinguishers (which expired before being installed), low quality uniforms and protective gear, low quality water meters and others. The Board paid hefty amounts for these goods most of which were never used. Those that were used, for example some water meters, were of very low quality which could not even work in the field. These have contributed to poor collection of money from customers which has critically affected the overall performance of the Board.
Andrew Puleni contributed to these mis-procurements because he used his advisory role to twist some known tender evaluation procedures to suit the people that promised them big cuts. Despite poor quality, these goods were bought at very exorbitant prices. It was also surprising to see how Henri Bakuwa swiftly approved payment of such suppliers when those supplying essential goods were side-lined.
‘His Role in the BIG THREE’
Andrew Puleni was the ‘purse boy’ who was collecting money from suppliers and contractors on behalf of the big three. People used to see his car parked at Shoprite in Blantyre, and people embarking and dis-embarking with packages. Life was heaven to him at the time until the time BWB had a new CEO in 2017.
During this time, he constructed houses within Blantyre and in Lilongwe. His dwelling house was built in Lilongwe, probably to prevent people from discovering his moves. However, there is no secret under the sun. He is also known to have built houses and bought cars for side-chicks, some of which are within Blantyre.
He was moved to the Administration Department in 2019 and has been fighting to go back to his Procurement position. It is not surprising how he has connived with Bakuwa, Verson Kafodya and Mavuto Chiipanthenga to intensify their battles when they saw the opportunity on the expiry of contracts for Chaweza and Chiumia. They are also geared to remove the Director and Manager for the Human Resource and Administration Department, and others as they see them as stumbling blocks to their strategy for stealing. Truthfully, any boss who hires or keeps Andrew Puleni should know that they are digging their own grave because Njoka Soweta!
It is worth noting that the relationship between Andrew Puleni and Henri Bakuwa at some point got sour on the same reasons, particularly at the end of Bakuwa’s reign as Acting CEO. It is known that these two started collecting kick-backs without the other knowing. One of the cases was when Andrew Puleni collected some money from one of the suppliers of plastic pipes without the knowledge of his boss. When the boss went to ask for money from the same supplier, he was told that Andrew Pulen had already collected. However, he did not remit the portion to the boss. If Bakuwa had stayed for long, Andrew Puleni would have also dethroned him. Surprisingly, these two have ganged to dethrone Chaweza and others just for them to continue their plunder at Blantyre Water Board.
3. MAVUTO CHIIPANTHENGA
Mavuto Chiipanthenga has been working as a Technical Director since the time of Thawe. He is one of the longest-saving high official at Blantyre Water Board. However, the love of money has over the years compromised his professionalism. He is seen by people as a ‘good person’, but those who know the psychology of people would prove otherwise.
‘In the time of Andrew Thawe’
One of the reasons Andrew Thawe saw the exit at Blantyre Water Board was because of the mis-procurement issues which were brought to light by Andrew Puleni and his accomplices at the time. In this cross-fire, Mavuto Chiipanthenga was also implicated as he was the Internal Procurement Chair at the time. It was also rumoured that Mavuto Chiipanthenga worked with Thawe in some deals with contractors, and the ACB was on their neck. He survived that time because he was not the big fish in the cross-fire.
‘In the time of Henri Bakuwa’
During the time of Henri Bakuwa as Acting CEO, Mavuto Chiipanthenga was the Chairperson of the Internal Procurement Committee as well. He blended very well with Bakuwa and Puleni such that they formed a trio that ransacked BWB through fraud. They approved unnecessary procurements in order to receive kickbacks. Since Bakuwa was signing for both CEO and Director of Finance and Administration, the only trusted Technical Director to complete the signing of the Local Purchasing orders and cheques was Mavuto Chiipanthenga. At the time, Verson Kafodya who was the Director of Distribution and Commerce, was not a signatory to the important accounts at the Board. So Chiipanthenga helped Henri Bakuwa to get what he wanted. In the end, they shared the spoils.
‘His leadership style’
From some BWB employees, Mavuto Chiipanthenga is perceived as an angel. However, those who know him well will tell you exactly who he is- a silent killer – a snake in the grass. He tries to calculate his moves so that people don’t suspect him in the end. He works behind the scenes. In all the issues of procurements during the time of Thawe and Bakuwa, he looked like a saint. However, if the people mentioned above have an opportunity to say the truth, he will be found wanting.
He has over the years tried to rearrange himself by positioning his loyalists in strategic positions so that he can achieve his goals which are: (1) to steal from the company without being reprimanded, and (2) to grab the position of CEO with his loyalists under him so that he cannot be exposed, and at the same time to use them to continue his stealing escapades.
It is evident from the anonymous letters that his signature was there. Some of the information provided in these letters pointed to him and some other members within his Department. In one of the letters, it was alleged that some of the Executive Management members were not happy with the actions of one Mrs Annie Chipaka, Director of Human Resources and Administration. This time, Verson Kafodya had already left the organisation after expiry of his contract. The only remaining Directors at the time were Chiumia, Chipaka and Chiipanthenga. If this allegation was true, the likely director who would give these sentiments was Mavuto Chiipanthenga. It was also noted that the people who have been authoring these letters were served with classified information which leaves Chiipanthenga on the limelight to share these issues besides other staff members connected to Bakuwa and Puleni. Summarily, Mavuto Chiipanthenga should also be within the syndicate which worked to dethrone Chaweza.
It is also alleged that Mavuto Chiipanthenga is a friend of one of the most powerful confidants of Dr Lazarus Chakwera. It is not surprising then to note that the acting capacity for the CEO has been given to him. This gives him all the advantage to ransack the Board especially at this time Blantyre Water Board has received funding to implement some big projects.
‘Project Manager for Mulanje Water Supply Project’
The Mulanje Water Supply Project which was aimed at abstracting water from Mulanje Mountain to Blantyre was being managed by Mavuto Chiipanthenga, assisted by his trusted aide, Stainley Bakolo.
The project, which was highly publicised, was completed in 2019. It was supposed to produce 20 million litres of water per day, according to the information the whistle blower has gathered. But if you go to Blantyre Water Board and ask about the project, you will hear something different. The project, after one year from completion, cannot supply this targeted amount of water. This is because of the way it was managed by these two people. From the information, the whistle blower has collected regarding the project, there was a team of engineers and technicians from the Board who were assigned various roles in the project during the construction. However, the critical decisions were made by the two, disregarding the views of the other members. Several designs were modified without sound technical reasons allowing the contractor to use specifications of lower quality. If technical, financial and forensic audits are carried out on this project, so many flaws will be discovered. To say the truth, the new system won’t last long due to substandard work that was carried out. This was echoed by a Mr Elias Chimulambe who, in one of the local papers, indicated that the Mulanje water supply project was just a drain of resources. This was because the people who managed this project did not do their work professionally. Even, the Vice President, Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima, has been disappointed with this project and he kept mentioning it during the campaign period and even now.
It was surprising to see that the Mulanje Water project was not able to achieve its objectives of supplying water to the designated areas although the funds were enough. Mavuto Chiipanthenga and Stainley Bakolo benefited a lot from the Contract, and this can be confirmed by what they have acquired within the period of construction and afterwards. They splashed money like nobody’s business in some public places. Mr Chiipanthenga is known to have built state-of-the art mansions in Machinjiri and Chileka amongst the visible benefits from this project. It may also not be surprising, if some more digging is made, to find that these two people have built or purchased properties – only time will tell.
It is also known that Mavuto Chiipanthenga and Stainley Bakolo with their whole families went to India in late 2019 under the auspices of the Contractor for the project. Both of these people went on leave at the same time and claimed that they were within Malawi. Photos of their holiday spree were seen on internet posted by their spouses. This proved that part of the project money was swindled and the holiday was just a celebration for the ‘good work done’ on both sides.
Recently, another whistle blower reported that Mr Chiipanthenga’s wife had stolen over MK60 million which was being kept in their house in Machinjiri. This resulted in their marriage being compromised. If such moneys can be kept in a house, how much more did these people pocket from the project? One wonders! If these monies were used for the project, probably Malawi would have seen the tangible benefits. But go to Bangwe, Nguludi, Namiyango and BCA and ask if they get water from this project: you will get the answers for yourselves. The project worth USD 23.5 million can’t deliver the result, yet it will be the tax-payer’s money that will cough the hard-earned money to pay back the loan.
The Mulanje project requires serious audits from above, otherwise its performance and sustainability is critically at stake. The project will not stand the test of time. The Board and the Government of Malawi still have to pay back the loan from the EXIM Bank of India for works which were not done well, and would not improve the availability of potable water in Blantyre. This is misuse of public funds. And if the Tonse Government subscribes to this mediocre, then we are up for something else in this country!
The Board is yet to implement other mega infrastructure projects in the next few months. It is the same crop of people that are expected to manage these projects. If nothing happens at the moment, the Board and the Government should expect another drain of resources as these people expect to enrich themselves further and leave Malawians in dire poverty through re-payment of loans whose objectives were not fulfilled because of a few greedy and inconsiderate individuals.
The whistleblower also smells a rat with the recommendations given in one of the anonymous letters that the only way to improve performance of the Board is by allowing those who left the Board or changed positions to come back. This is a ploy to consolidate the syndicate again while eliminating those that will stand in the way.
The free advice the whistle blower gives to the Board Chair for Blantyre Water Board is that he should tread very carefully when some decisions are made. He will find himself entangled in the web of treachery and theft. Mr, Board Chair, please gather as much information as possible before you make your decisions! The rubble you think you are removing might be the staff that would have kept Blantyre Water Board afloat. The angels you are trying to bring back, will eventually kill Blantyre Water Board. This is free advice- take it or leave it.
Although there are other factors that might have contributed to the fall of BWB’s performance over the years, the critical turning points are the ones noted above. The Government of Malawi needs to take seriously any matters to do with reformation of Blantyre Water Board. The Board has fallen, not because it doesn’t have brilliant minds, but because of a few greedy individuals who used their power and influence to plunder the company without mercy. If such crop is given another chance, there will be no improvement in performance of the Board. There are so many issues that occurred during this period which may need proper investigation.