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Constituents take Member of Parliament Clement Chiwaya to task

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Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament who is also Member of Parliament for Mangochi Central Constituency, Clement Chiwaya, and Mangochi

District Council are being accused of using government funds to buy two used minibuses as ambulances for the constituency’s two wards without the approval of the concerned constituents.

The minibuses, a Mazda Bongo and a Nissan Vannete, have been bought with K7.2 million Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which some local governance experts have also described as inappropriate based on the terms of reference of CDF.

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Through a letter dated March 15 2017 addressed to Mangochi District Commissioner, Chiwaya authorised the council to procure the two ambulances, which he said will be run and maintained by the communities of Koche and Mthundu.

In the letter, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament indicates that communities of Makawa, Maldeco and Namiyasi have expressed concern over the lack of ambulances.

“You may be aware, Sir, that the hospital is over 20 kilometres away and the alternative is a Cham [Christian Health Association of Malawi] hospital which does not offer free services. After consultations in the constituency, we have decided to use Constituency Development Fund to procure two used vehicles to be used as ambulances in the wards of Koche and Mthundu,” reads Chiwaya’s letter in part.

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Attached to the letter are quotations from three suppliers, two of them are from Lilongwe and the other one is from Mangochi. However, all the quotations despite coming from different suppliers were written on March 15, the same day the MP wrote and presented the request letter to the council. This raised some doubts if indeed tendering and procurement procedures were followed.

However, Area Development Committee Chair for Mponda , Mmadi Alidi, accused the MP of not consulting them, saying the MP forced them to sign the request forms although they did not know who the suppliers were. This is also despite that the communities were interested in other projects.

Alidi said people in the constituency are not interested in the two ambulances which he said will do a little for the needs of the people.

“We will not accept the ambulances because we did not approve of them. The MP could have come and hear what people are interested in instead of forcing things on us,” Alidi said.

When contacted, Chiwawa cut off the telephone line when this reporter introduced the topic to him, he continued to do the same with several attempts to call him.

But speaking in an interview, Mangochi District Commissioner, Moses Chimphepo, said that the council was aware that it was necessary to procure ambulances using the CDF such that it had to seek clearance from the Local Government Finance Committee to pave way for the purchase.

He further justified that the council does not see any problem with buying of the vehicle if the MP and the people want them to be bought.

“The buses have been delivered to us and we will register them in the name of the district council and the arrangement is to link them to the district hospital.

However, the MP and the communities will be responsible in maintaining and sustaining the ambulances,” Chimphepo said.

But a Local Government Finance Committee member indicated that it was wrong for MPs to use the fund to procure items like ambulances, saying the money is meant for micro-projects like school and bridge maintenances.

“The only ambulances that can be procured with CDF are bicycle ambulances for remote areas because they are small and easy to sustain by the communities. But for minibuses as ambulances, the guidelines at the moment do not provide such arrangements,” said the source who did not want to be mentioned for fear of political persecution.

Of late, there have been some Members of Parliament who have bought community ambulances using personal funds.

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