Suspended Blantyre Water Board (BWB) chief executive (CE) Andrew Thawe has taken to court his employers, claiming compensation for constructive dismissal and other labour-related issues, The Nation has established.
In an application dated September 21 2015 filed in the High Court Principal Registry, Thawe is seeking clarification on whether BWB could lawfully place him on an indefinite suspension without hearing him.
He is also demanding an explanation on whether the State-owned parastatal could lawfully withhold his contractual benefits without hearing him when his suspension was meant to be with full benefits.
Thawe was sent on forced leave in September 2014 to pave the way for investigations after the Department of Statutory Corporations received complaints from the workers union at BWB.
In its complaint, the workers union, among other things, accused Thawe of making unilateral decisions, failure to protect the welfare of the workers, issuing contracts for personal benefits, single-handedly procuring prepaid water billing meters from other countries and buying spares for motors which were allegedly not received by stores and finance department.
Thawe, who is being represented by Banda & Banda and Company, is also questioning why BWB made decisions without his consent.
Reads in part Thawe’s claim: “Reliefs sought by the plaintiff include a declaration that the defendant [BWB] herein could not lawfully place the plaintiff [Thawe] on an indefinite suspension without hearing the plaintiff.”
The summon demands a declaration that BWB could have not withheld his contractual benefits when his suspension was meant to be with full benefits.
He demands the board to restore his contractual benefits or pay him minority value of the withheld contractual benefits and also, pay him for unfair labour practices, unfair dismissal and establish the cost of action.
Responding to an e-mailed questionnaire on the issue earlier last week, BWB board chairperson James Naphambo confirmed that Thawe commenced legal proceedings against the board.
He said: “The originating summons was served on BWB within the week. We are currently seeking legal advice on the matter and will act accordingly after receiving legal advice.”
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) also launched investigations into allegations of abuse of office levelled against Thawe and confirmed to have processed and authorised the complaint for investigation.
However, ACB said only complaints of alleged corrupt practices are under investigation as the bureau only probes a complaint with all elements of suspected corruption offence.
Thawe is a registered civil engineer who was appointed as BWB CE in May 2010 and holds a master’s degree in business administration.
In his absence, BWB director of finance Henry Bakuwa has been acting as CE.