Some junior employees at Blantyre City Council have accused their bosses of buying city houses at a giveaway price while denying them the same privilege.
The employees have since threatened to take unspecified action if their demands are not met.
But city authorities say the juniors were given an opportunity to get loans to build or buy houses for themselves.
The disgruntled employees claim that since 2005, the junior employees, especially those from the fire brigade section and drivers, have been on the neck of council management to allow them to buy houses in which they have been living.
In a letter dated June 15 2005, the employees wrote director of engineering services: “We the undersigned firefighters and officers…hope that as you take this issue into further consideration, we will enjoy the same benefits as our fellow employees who had the opportunity of purchasing the houses in which they are sitting-in tenants.” The letter is signed by 16 employees, but as of now there are about 40 people making the demand, according to some of the disgruntled workers.
The employees also lodged a complaint to the Ombudsman who queried the city council management over the matter.
The council responded to the Ombudsman in a letter dated November 26 2010, promising to sell the employees the houses: “Please be advised that Blantyre City Council is resolving the issue internally and shortly some of the complainants who are living in our houses earmarked not for sale will be offered to buy the houses. Others will be given loans to construct their own houses.”
The letter is signed by Robert Kawiya, the then acting chief executive.
But although management promised through the Ombudsman to sell them the houses, nothing of that sort has happened apart from the bosses buying houses at a giveaway price.
In an interview on Tuesday, BCC director of administration services, Alfred Chanza, said the home ownership scheme did not include houses occupied by employees in emergency services such as fire brigade and health. But he said the occupants were given an option to get loans from the council and either buy or build their own houses.
“But these people want institutional houses which we cannot sell. That will be killing the institution,” said Chanza.
Told that the council promised to sell the houses to the people and that it has taken many years to fulfil the pledge, Chanza said: “The people are clinging to the houses instead of applying for loans. It is a revolving fund so loans are given in phases.”
Chanza confirmed that all directors and other senior officers bought houses from the council, including himself.
Others that bought city houses, according to Chanza, are former chief executive, Sophie Kalimba; former acting CEO, Dr. Lester Bandawe; director of town planning, Costly Chanza; chief fire officer Stanford Namfuko; another former acting CEO, Robert Kawiya; former director of engineering, Kenneth Kamtwera; human resource manager, Alfred Nyengo; among others.