Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) Limited shareholders say they have shaken up the State company’s top brass to pave way for a forensic investigation into the management of post-cyclones Gombe and Ana power generation infrastructure recovery.
In letters dated October 3 2023 to Egenco chief executive officer Engineer William Liabunya and director of corporate services and company secretary Videlia Mluwira, Secretary to the Treasury MacDonald Mafuta Mwale, in his capacity as shareholder, said the forensic audit will investigate how Egenco responded after the two cyclones damaged infrastructure, leading to persistent and prolonged power rationing.
The shareholders said they noted that the parastatal was subjected to devastating damage due to Cyclone Ana in January 2022 and Cyclone Gombe in March of the same year.
Reads the letter in part: “For that reason, the shareholders have found it fit that a forensic audit of the company’s response be undertaken immediately and that the Auditor General should facilitate the identification and procurement of the said forensic auditors.
“The Auditor General has identified the forensic auditors who have been commissioned to commence the forensic audit on 3rd October 2023.
“For this reason, the shareholders of the company have ordered that, in keeping with proper corporate governance practice, you should be sent on forced leave immediately until such day that the forensic auditors have completed their assignment and communication of this fact has been made to you.”
Mafuta Mwale was yet to respond to our questionnaire sent to him through WhatsApp.
Barely hours after Egenco communicated the development to staff on Friday, Liabunya and Mluwira, a lawyer, obtained a court order restricting implementation of the decision.
Egenco acting director of human resources management Alexander Dzinkambani announced that the duo was sent on forced leave in an internal memorandum reference HRA/2/01 dated October 6 2023.
The memo, addressed to Egenco staff, said the decision to send the two on forced leave was to pave the way for the forensic audit investigation instituted by the government.
The communication further indicated that director of operations Dr Maxon Chitawo would be “the responsible officer for the office of the chief executive officer with immediate effect”.
However, the court order the duo obtained from the Industrial Relations Court stated that Liabunya and Mluwira should continue carrying out their duties until a further order of the court.
The order also directed Liabunya and Mluwira to file an application for continuation of the order within seven days from Friday.
Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza was not available for comment when The Nation reached out to him.
On the other hand, Liabunya was yet to respond to our questionnaire sent via WhatsApp by press time at 8pm last evening.
But Egenco insiders confirmed that the forensic audit aims at establishing who was wrong in the whole scenario and that actions must be taken on them.
The decision comes after President Lazarus Chakwera, during the opening of the Malawi Bureau of Standards office complex and laboratory and Malawi International Trade Fair in Blantyre on May 17 2023, accused Egenco management of lack of urgency in the handling of the restoration of Kapichira Hydro-electric Power Station in Chikwawa, which took a year and three months to complete.
He said: “I gave the management at Egenco a deadline of Christmas  to have it restored in the hope that this would give them a sense of urgency to act with speed, but Christmas came and went and they failed to deliver.
“When this happened, I expected that the Egenco board that I personally appointed would take action against those managers at Egenco who failed to deliver, but it has now been five months since that deadline was missed and I have heard of no consequences for anyone at Egenco.”
Tropical Storm Ana damaged infrastructure in January 2022, taking off about 129.6 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the national grid. However, Malawi Government waited until July 2022 to source $60 million on behalf of Egenco from the World Bank for the energy restoration project.
In September last year, Egenco indicated that Kapichira would be restored by December 22.
However, the deadline was missed after it emerged that the project, which involved restoration of power generation and redesigning the whole dam structure to make it resilient to floods, faced operational challenges which stalled the works for some days.