Friday, February 23

Govt May Pay K400 Million Compensation

Taxpayers may pay over K400 million as compensation to an employee of Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Teveta) for unfair and illegal labour practices.

Teveta board of directors bypassed management and suspended Joseph Kampondeni, who was working as head of funding and finance, according to a demand letter from Kampondeni’s lawyers.

The letter from Whyte & Cross Law Consultants states that their client was suspended for allegedly allowing and processing disbursement of K18 million to Ndi Tsogolo Langa (NTL) without a written agreement and supporting documentation.

Msasa: The matter is still in court
But, according to the letter, the employee was later exonerated by the Teveta disciplinary committee comprising some board members and discharged of wrongdoing by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam).

Kampondeni took the matter to the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) under case Number 557 of 2017, demanding K403 million as compensation on four grounds, namely damages for unfair and illegal labour practices, damages for defamation, mental anguish and humiliation, loss of career progression as well as legal fees.

Documents Nation on Sunday has seen show that on October 20 2021 Kampondeni, his lawyers and representatives of Teveta held discussions on the matter at IRC where it was agreed that he should put in writing the amount being requested as compensation.

A letter from Whyte & Cross Law Consultants, dated October 23 2021 to Teveta, shows the breakdown of the money Kampondeni is seeking: K100 million for unfair and illegal labour practices; K200 million for defamation, mental anguish, humiliation etc; K83 795 829 for loss of prospective career progression and K20 million legal fees.

In an interview this week, Teveta public relations manager Lewis Msasa confirmed the demands by Kampondeni through his lawyers but refused to comment further, saying the matter is still in court.

In a telephone interview on Thursday, Kampondeni confirmed the case is ongoing but refused to give more details, referring us to his lawyer Edgar Kachere who was yet to respond to our query as we went to press.

A letter from Kampondeni’s lawyers dated October 13 2021 addressed to lawyer for Teveta reads in part: “It is not in dispute that the former board chairperson of the respondent Mr Gilbert Chilinde, was personally handling all affairs of the respondent bypassing management, to the extent that he personally delivered the letter of suspension to our client, waited there for our client to read the said letter, a job that was not in his realm of power.

“He further personally commanded him to hand over the company motor vehicle and all company property. This abuse of power mentally disturbed our client to the effect that he was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. To make matters worse, Mr Chilinde personally phoned our client informing him of the impending suspension.”

The letter also notes that Kampondeni is still employed by Teveta but at a lower grade since the grade he was entitled to was botched by the board and filled by another person.

A letter from Icam, dated September 5 2018, titled ‘Discharge with a Reprimand’ observed that on the evidence tendered against Kampondeni, the disciplinary committee noted that internal controls at Teveta were weak and that in processing the disbursement of the funds, the complainant was comfortable to proceed as long as the papers bore signatures of the executive director.

Reads the letter signed by Icam president Henry Chowawa: “Notwithstanding the discharge, the council would like to caution you that as a professional accountant, you were expected to have acted more carefully and exercised more professional care and discipline and diligence in the disbursement of the K18 million.“`¶

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