Chaos in Mzimba Constituency Development Fund projects


For Chimwemwe Ndhlovu, the idea of attaining quality education through a better learning environment remains a far-fetched dream.

The 14-year-old girl, a standard seven pupil at Mkunguni Primary school, Traditional Authority Khosolo, in Mzimba South East, has never sat under any iron roofed classroom block in her education life.

From standard one to seven, Ndhlovu has been nursing her dream career of becoming a nurse under the grass-thatched classrooms that inspire little or no hope for a better future.


During rainy season, there are frequent suspensions of classes, teachers carrying their books and rushing to the comfort of their homes, leaving learners heaped in one corner of a ‘classroom block’ that is free from leakage.

Such is the perennial experience of Ndhlovu and 200 learners at Mkunguni School. The fact that the school is listed as having a classroom block worthy K1.6 million from Constituency Development Fund (CDF) makes it more painful and insulting.

CDF is a funding arrangement from central government to electoral constituencies meant to finance local development projects, including the construction of bridges, school blocks and boreholes and is entrusted in the hands of Members of Parliament.


Established more than 10 years ago, CDF has been mired in numerous controversies that include unfinished and ghost projects that border on lack of patriotism through outright greed and thievery.

Sadly, ordinary citizens are always at the receiving end of all this and school children at Mkunguni Primary— located 40 kilometres from Kabuwa Trading Centre, which borders Dwangwa— are no exception.

A financial report at M’mbelwa District Council, dated June 30 2016 and presented to the full council meeting, shows the school has a modern school block constructed with money from CDF yet no such structure stands on its sad land.

A recent tracking survey conducted by a local organisation Mzimba District Education Network (Mziden), with support from Action-aid, reveals glaring gaps in the way CDF projects are implemented in the district.

The random survey, which targeted Mzimba South East and Mzimba Solola constituencies, was aimed at checking transparency and accountability in implementation of projects.

Suspected ghost projects

The findings established that many schools mentioned in the financial report as having benefited from CDF in 2015/16 fiscal year were ghost projects.

In Mzima South East, primary schools like Mkunguni, Senga Junior and Kachere Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) are listed as having structures constructed with CDF funds.

Visits to all the schools show nothing on the ground, yet they have millions of money tagged to their names as expenditures.

Mkunguni is said to have received K1.6 million, Senga Junior K1.08 million and Kachere K2.4 million.

For Mkunguni, communities denied to have received any materials for construction of a school block.

“You can see for yourself. All we have here is an old grass-thatched school block, built long time ago, surrounding communities,” says Dan Khwawa, Senior Group Village Headman at Kabuwa.

“It is a pity that we get reports of a school block worthy such sums of money being constructed here while we have none.”

Mkunguni Head Teacher, Famous Yambani Nkosi, says plunder of public resources amounts to gross insensitivity to the plight school children in rural areas.

Says Nkosi: “Children are learning under poor conditions, sitting on a dusty floor but it is in council records that a modern school block was constructed here. This is pathetic.”

Similarly, Senga Junior is also trapped in this problem as it has never received any help from CDF since 2014. But the report highlights delivery of materials meant to assist in the construction of a classroom block at the school.

Group Village Head Mtangala Theu expresses shock at the news, saying there is no formal documentation showing that the school received such materials.

The school is still facing challenges due to limited space, which is forcing teachers to combine four classes in two-classroom blocks.

Kachere is yet another project said to have benefited from CDF through construction materials for a CDSS worthy K2.4 million. But information on the ground indicates otherwise.

“There is no such school as Kachere CDSS. What we have here is a primary school and nothing was delivered here for a school project,” says Elijah Shaba, head teacher at Kachere Primary.

Village head Austin Fumbirani says Kachere area still needs a CDSS since most children walk as far as 15 Kilometres to Ng’ombe-chinda CDSS.

Says Fumbirani: “We are asking well-wishers to help us track the money. We are eager to have the structure for a CDSS here.”

MP for Mzimba South East, Rabson Chihaula Shaba, admits the queries in the financial report saying he is working with the secretariat to sort them out.

He says that flouting of CDF guidelines and sidelining structures responsible for community development result in all these anomalies.

“Most of times guidelines are skipped and we rarely involve the area development committees (ADCs) which are custodians of development projects in villages. But now we are involving them,” Chihaula Shaba says.

Mzimba Solola is yet another constituency with a mismatch of records on paper and on the ground. One of the major highlights in the financial report is the spending of K5million to transport school project materials to Kamwazeka and Chasato CDSS, among others.

As has been the case, no such material went to such schools.

MP for Mzimba Solola, Jacob Hara, says most of the anomalies in the financial report are just typo errors by M’mbelwa District Council.

Hara blames some ward councilors in his constituency for trying to tarnish his image by ‘spreading lies’ in order to a score a political mile towards their ambition for the MP seat.

Who is to blame for the chaos?

Chairperson for Khosolo ADC in Mzimba South East, Patrick Nyirongo, pushes the blame to M’mbelwa District Council.

He says the council secretariat often sidelines ADCs despite their chairs being signatories to financial resources towards community projects.

Nyirongo adds that the conduct of MPs to let people from their political parties pose as ADC chairpersons and forge signatures makes matters worse.

“There are signatures in the papers but they are not mine. I did not authorise the purchase of materials for the non-existent projects at Kachere, Senga and Mkunguni.

“I once discussed the issue with the District Commissioner (DC) but I was told that the secretariat is compelled just to release the money because MPs are sensitive when it comes to CDF projects,” says Nyirongo.

Actionaid Pogrammes Coordinator in Mzimba, Wongani Mugaba, calls on the central government to conduct frequent audits in councils.

“It is paramount to prevent misuse of funds and act on mismatches between financial reports and what is on the ground,” Mugaba says.

He says his organisation thought of supporting a track survey on CDF projects in schools as part of a global campaign for education, which is geared towards improvement of education financing to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number four.

Mzimba District Education Network Chairperson, Teckson Amadu, says results of the survey clearly indicate lack of transparency and accountability in management of CDF, with MPs deliberately choosing to flout normal procedures in implementation of CDF projects.

“Sadly, no one has been penalised for this misconduct,” Amadu says.

Article 20 of the CDF guidelines states that lack of knowledge in the procedures stipulated in the guidelines shall not constitute any defense for any crime committed in relation to the CDF and failure to adhere to set guidelines and procedures shall amount to an offence and shall be punished by law.

But such a clause amounts to nothing as millions of money continue to disappear without any tangible development on the ground.

In Mzimba South East Constituency, a total of K6.8 million went unaccounted for in the 2015- 2016 financial year while Mzimba Solola the figures stand at K8.022 million, according to the survey report.

During a media tour for CDF projects in Mzimba, DC for M’mbelwa Council Thomas Chirwa referred to the mismatches in expenditure and projects on the ground as typo errors.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker