Malawi’s Ombudsman Martha Chimuza-Mwagonde has described the way the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) treats its retired employees as fraudulent saying it uses its own maladministration as a defense against claims of legitimate payments.
Chimuza-Mwagonde said this in her determination when she ordered LWB to pay its former employee severance allowance by May 22nd, 2017, after the employee had fought LWB for almost 17 years demanding his dues.
Severance pay is only given to those employees who are dismissed for economic reasons (termination of a contract as result of redundancy or retrenchment, or due to economic difficulties, or technical, structural or operational requirements of the employer) or unfairly (unfair dismissal).
LWB employed Waston Gabriel Gondwe as its Senior Water Superintendent in 1984 and retired him in 2001.
LWB is a parastatal water utility organization in Malawi established in 1947 and reconstituted by the Act of Parliament ‘Water Works Act No. 17 of 1995. It is mandated to supply potable water to the City of Lilongwe and the surrounding areas, according to its website, http://www.lwb.mw.
Paradoxically, LWB did not pay him his severance allowance nor did it advise him that he was entitled to the same.
But when Gondwe settled at his village he was later informed by fellow workers who retired later than him that LWB paid them their severance allowance.
When Gondwe confronted LWB demanding his dues, he was informed that his claim for severance allowance was statute barred.
However, Chimuza-Mwagonde quashed LWB’s argument saying for a defense of limitation to hold there must have been an opportunity to go to court, which Gondwe did not utilize when they was still time.
“For the litigant to go to court he obviously has to be aware or had information of a claim enforceable through recourse to courts. In the instant case it is clear that Gondwe did not have that information of his entitlement to severance.
“Furthermore it was LWB who had the legal obligation to inform Gondwe of his entitlement. In this case LWB did not prove that they discharged this duty,” she noted.
The Ombuds noted that LWB acted unfairly, unjustly and illegally when it advanced its own maladministration to defend itself.
“What they did to Gondwe is also criminal of which the criminal justice system could be involved. Gondwe suffered an injustice,” she said.
- This article was produced by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi – www.investigative-malawi.com
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :