The Malawi government’s contentious MK4 billion which was disbursed to Members of Parliament (MPs) during this year’s budget session, continues to stir even more controversy with fresh information revealing that some district councils have not yet started implementing proposed projects under the fund while others are yet to identify such projects.
Even more worrying is that the fund is facing challenges similar to those encountered in the implementation of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
These challenges include secrecy in the handling of information on the funds and failure to provide adequate information to the public through Area Development Committees (ADCs) and councillors.
These revelations are contained in the findings of an investigation done by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) through a three-year project called Citizen Action in Local Government Accountability (CALGA), funded by Irish Aid through Dan Church Aid (DCA).
CALGA is being implemented in Dowa, Ntchisi, Mwanza, Neno, Karonga and Chitipa and the project aims at holding the six district councils and national local government stakeholders accountable for the management of local development resources through enhanced citizen voice and action in tracking the allocation and utilization of such resources.
The ECM and CCJP investigation focused on management of CDF, the contentious MK4 billion that Parliament allocated to each of Malawi’s 193 constituencies, Local Development Fund (LDF), District Development Fund (DDF) and utilization of local revenue generated in the district councils.
The investigation followed the sorry state of citizen participation, reports of lack of transparency and accountability and alleged corruption in most local councils in Malawi.
However, the MK4 billion, translating to about MK20 million to each of the 193 constituencies and faced unprecedented public disapproval, raised hope of implementation of development projects among people in some areas.
Perhaps, resonating with the majority’s expectation on the outcome of the fund, the ECM and CCJP investigation has just rated it poorly.
“Some MPs are proposing their own projects when it is Area Development Committees (ADCs) that are supposed to initiate projects,” reveals the investigation. “Operational committees to implement projects are not yet instituted and oriented in some areas and project identification and implementation is not following project appraisals from communities.”
According to the investigation, Dowa, Mwanza, Neno, Karonga and Chitipa district councils disbursed the funds and implementation of some of the projects is underway with some challenges.
Ntchisi is yet to disburse the money amid public concerns.
“District councils are initiating projects despite already proposed projects from ADCs. There is lack of transparency in the councils’ procurement processes and identification of contractors,” the investigation further reveals.
On Thursday, ECM and CCJP held a Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) platform meeting in Lilongwe on local development resources management where stakeholders unanimously agreed that problems arising from mismanagement of funds such as the MK4 billion, are critical enemies of decentralisation in the country.
Malawi adopted the Decentralisation Policy and Local Government Act in 1998, promising her citizens a lot in terms of local development practice.
“We need to dialogue over these issues including aspects of development funding and utilization if Malawi is to benefit from decentralization, a system which is doing wonders in other African countries,” ECM’s Director of Social Development Carstess Mulume told the delegates.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is on record saying the K4 billion payment was an experiment outside the current normal mechanisms following complaints of abuse.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :