Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) chief executive officer (CEO) Alfonso Chikuni has attributed his failure to meet members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to a communication breakdown.
Chikuni was accused of calling off at the eleventh hour scheduled meeting with the committee and allegedly sneaking out of his office to avoid the encounter.
Members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to the committee were on a tour of LWB’s Malingunde Dam as a follow up to the European Union (EU) loan to upgrade the water reservoir.
But in an interview on Thursday, Chikuni said he was aware of the proposed tour by the MPs and that communication breakdown led to the mishap.
He said: “I am not such kind of a person and I regret whatever happened. I need these lawmakers and I have no reason to run away [from them]. I take full responsibility of what had happened, and we will sort this out.”
Later, an emergency meeting was held at Parliament Building between LWB board chairperson the Reverend Billy Gama and the MPs after the committee sought the board’s intervention.
Commenting on allegations that the CEO shunned the MPs, Gama, in an interview, said the conduct was “shameful” and “embarrassing”, however the board will wait for a formal complaint from the committee before pushing ahead with any action.
Committee chairperson and Salima Central MP Felix Jumbe said the CEO’s move was an indication of poor management and poor state of affairs at LWB.
He said the conduct was unfortunate and regrettable.
However, sources said LWB management failed to host the MPs because of budgetary constraints as the committee members allegedly demanded K50 000 ($82) each in allowances.
But Parliament public relations manager Leonard Mengezi said the issue was not about allowances, but MPs having a tour.
He said: “I think we must not mix up issues. He [the CEO] saw the members of Parliament and walked away. This has nothing to do with allowances.”
In June, Parliament passed a Loan Authorisation Bill of K12 billion (about $19.7 million) from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the Lilongwe Water Supply Resources Efficiency Programme. n