Group Village Headman Mwenewesha of Karonga is spending nights in police custody for reportedly swindling K590 400 meant for his subjects supposed to work for the the 2016 Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF 4) Public Works Programm project in his area, Nyasa Times has established.
The money, which was meant for Phase 1 and expected to be used in last month, was planned to have upped – to some considerable fraction – hundreds of households.
Officer-in-charge for Karonga Police Station Edward Chingaipe , who confirmed the development, said Mwenewesha “took advantage of his position” to register names that are non-existent as well as “members of his family.”
According to Deputy Commissioner Chingaipe, “the chief was brought to our office by angry villagers” after they discovered foul play with the names.
Nelson Mwakisulu, an Area Development Committee (ADC) chairperson, said “this has affected a lot of vulnerable people in the area.”
He added: “The money is too much and we want justice to prevail so that others learn a lesson from it. It is very unfortunate that out of 230 beneficiaries registered, only 140 were real. Not only that, some were his children and his close relations.”
Mwakisulu said that they had already reported the matter to Traditional Authority Kilupula, and that they had asked some of his relatives to give back the money they had received.
Kilupula denied receiving such a report but was quick to say that he could not tolerate such misdemeanor.
Clement Chunga, government official responsible for the project, could not be reached for comment.
But Nyasa Times understands that the matter is just a whistleblower as it concerns most senior officers at the District Council.
According to our sources, the figure of the beneficiaries for the whole district in February 2016 was expected to be 17000 people but it was mutely trimmed by responsible officers without explanation.
Karonga district council officials are popular with issues of siphoning public funds.
In a related development, Councillor for Rukuru Ward in Karonga North West Constituency, Harry Mwanyembe, has accused the district secretariat for sidelining the district council in the implementation of the program.
He said the technocrats trimmed by over 1000 beneficiaries from the initial 17,178 to 16087 in the programme without consulting the council.
In the initial allocation program, Karonga could benefit K 206, 132, 611. While accepting the blame, Acting Director of Planning and Development (DPD), Philimon Maseko said the change was done at central level.
“It was not us but the LDF management at headquarters that trimmed the initial number of beneficiaries,” said Maseko as quoted by Mana.
According to the acting DPD, most of the beneficiaries received their monthly wages and that Phase one of the programme ends this month (March).
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