Malawi Local Govt Ministry sexes up performance assessment – PS Kaphaizi

Malawi’s Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Principal Secretary Kester Kaphaizi has made a shocking revelation that his office doctors results of Performance Assessment to favour some district councils.

The declaration of guilt was made recently during a District Commissioners (DCs) Conference held in the lake shore district of Mangochi, according to a report.

The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) had initiated a round table discussion involving the ministry, the Local Government Finance Committee and all the councils prior to the conference.

It was at this roundtable discussion that the clandestine acts were unearthed after some DCs challenged the credibility of the results of the Local Development Fund (LDF) supported Performance Assessment for their respective councils.

Some of the District Commissioers
Some of the District Commissioers

The DCs accused the ministry’s principal secretaries and also the National Local Government Finance Committee of faking the results of the performance assessment.

The purpose of the assessment was to ascertain council performance and to further identify capacity gaps for efficient and effective implementation of the LDF supported programmes and activities, which are heavily abused by councils.

Thus, the district councils were awarded marks and ranked on a continuum starting with the best performing to the worst.

The DCs suspected that the authorities were awarding high marks to ‘good boys’ at the expense of DCs whom they felt uncomfortable to working with.

The report said the unconvinced DCs squeezed Kaphaizi before he confessed that all along, results had been doctored to favour certain councils at the expense of performing councils.

The revelation annoyed most DCs who in turn boycotted the awarding ceremony.

An assessment report which was produced indicates that failure by most councils to perform is due to managerial deficiencies at the ministry headquarters.

The report shows that the ministry has failed to provide policy guidance, monitoring, supervision, and follow-up visits to councils.

It observes that while decentralisation has seen a steady increase in financial resources transferred to the councils, there has never been a corresponding capacity improvement in the councils.

The report notes that there are serious deficiencies in abilities of staff, such as directors of finance and internal auditors, to manage huge amounts of resources.

The report, however, also indicates that although there has been a slight improvement in the performance of the councils as compared to the previous years, none of the councils had achieved an excellent performance.

Most DCs agreed with the report findings saying they believed there were very serious management failures at the ministry as such they had failed to take a leading role in most spheres.

Most of the council’s believe that the capacity gaps impeding their performance would not have been there if the ministry took a positive step in the implementation of the 2005 Functional Review.

They attributed this to the ministry’s Principal Secretary 2, Stuart Ligomeka who has been with the ministry since 2004.

But most DCs backed Kaphaizi as controlling officer, arguing he had no serious problems apart from his Laissez-faire approach to managing the ministry.

They, however, claimed that his approach had resulted in= Ligomeka taking over management of the ministry with an iron feast on issues to do with council operations.

They further alleged that the laissez-faire altitude by Kaphaizi had also allowed Kiswel Dakamau, the Director of Local Government Services, to go on rampage in the course of making unwarranted visits to councils where he has been making corrupt financial demands, in exchange of favours.

“Those councils which have refused to bend on such demands are downgraded and black listed with follow up fault finding missions,” says the report.

The DCs threatened that if the state of affairs does not change, the OPC should brace for a vigil by the country’s all council employees from across the country arguing their patience had been tried for long.

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