The Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) has asked the government to
clear the mess in the disbursement of bursaries under Constituency
Development Fund (CDF).
Mejn Executive Director Bertha Lipipa Phiri said the network has learned that deserving students are not benefitting from CDF bursaries.
Under CDF guidelines, the package for constituency development requires that K3 million be set aside for use by needy students in constituencies.
“We have noted that there are multiple beneficiaries in some schools while, in others, we have discovered that head teachers are having ghost beneficiaries. This means poor learners who deserve such funds are being left out of the bursary scheme,” she said.
Apart from cleaning the mess in CDF, Mejn wants the government to consider stopping the use of National Identity cards when implementing the Affordable Inputs Programme
“Mejn has discovered that most suppliers of fertiliser and seeds under AIP are buying ID coupons from beneficiaries instead of supplying them with fertiliser.
“There are a lot of IDs which are being kept by middle-men who offer farmers small amounts of money in exchange with the ID. We know that the government is aware of this and we expect them to make a bold decision and come up with strategies that will limit, or eliminate,
abuse of the AIP,” she said.
Phiri said AIP would fail to achieve its goal of making vulnerable families food-secure because some families are being denied the right to purchase inputs.
“It appears that some suppliers deliberately hoard the inputs so that farmers can be frustrated and decide to sell their coupons. As such, we hope that the AIP paper, which the ministry has drafted, will be able to come up with a strong position that will sort out all these challenges,” Phiri said.
Mejn is implementing a five-year programme which is aimed at addressing social inequalities prevalent in health, education, agriculture, among others, in districts such as Mangochi.
However, Member of Parliament for Mangochi Monkey Bay, Ralph Jooma, said, while Mejn’s observation could be true in some areas, there were no such problems in his constituency.
“My constituency has a separate committee which manages bursaries to ensure that only deserving learners are benefitting from the scheme,” he said.