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Councillors push for municipal independence

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Luchenza Municipal Council Councillors have asked government departments to consider the municipal as a stand-alone Council unlike the current situation whereby the municipal relies on Thyolo and Mulanje districts for its programmes.

The councillors say this has negatively affected the implementation of development projects in the municipality.

The remarks were made last week during a capacity building training for Luchenza councillors at Nali Motel in the municipality.

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Councillor Joseph Bello for Sambagalu Ward gave the example of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from which he alleged that Luchenza residents do not benefit much.

“Luchenza does not have its own constituency and that automatically disqualifies it from receiving Constituency Development Fund. Part of Luchenza is in Thyolo East Constituency while another one in Mulanje South West Constituency.

“So, when the funds go to the two districts and we approach relevant authorities on the CDF, they tell us that we are from Luchenza Municipality, and, as such, the CDF is none of our business,” he said.

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In his remarks, Councillor William Genesis for Kapiri Ward concurred with Bello, saying they are not even recognised at Area Development Committee level where all developmental projects are tabled and endorsed.

“The situation has put us in an awkward position and people are suffering. Perhaps we should advocate for a Ward Development Fund so that Luchenza residents should also experience some positive change as far as development is concerned,” lamented Genesis.

Mayor for Luchenza, Harold Kaliwo, said there is need to give councillors enough resources so that they should facilitate the initiation of projects in their respective areas.

“I should agree with my colleague to advocate for Ward Development Fund; otherwise, people out there are saying we are doing nothing yet we don’t have resources,” he said.

Kaliwo wondered why the CDF lies in the hands of policymakers, yet the councillors are the bridge for development at community level.

Commenting on Luchenza’s municipal status, Kaliwo said since the Council was promoted to a municipality, it has never received enough resources and machinery befitting its status.

He said: “The Council lacks a lot of things such as a vehicle for collecting refuse and a fire brigade.

“Imagine the tractor we use to collect refuse was donated by well-wishers in the late 1980s and it is on and off now and then.”

Kaliwo also said the Council is failing to collect more revenue as people are refusing to pay council rates saying they do not see any developments taking place due to lack of resources.

Kaliwo the described the training as an eyeopener on how best they can discharge their duties and assist the Council to generate more revenue.

But in his remarks at the end of the training, Luchenza Municipal Council Chief Executive Officer, Rodney Simwaka, said CDF was introduced in 2006 when the country had no councillors

He said development lies in the hands of councillors, hence the need to provide them with resources.

Simwaka encouraged the councillors to continue working hard to initiate the developments they can manage with the little resources they have.

“As a Council we must invest in capital equipment. Let us all work hard to avoid turning the Council into a social club because all the money we collect goes back to the operations of the Council which qualifies it into a social club,” he said.

Luchenza Civil Society Organisation Chair, Phillip Nyoni, agreed with the councillors, saying all the problems people of Luchenza are facing are as a result of lack of direct representation in Parliament.

“It is sad that even the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme (Dahsp) which other districts are enjoying, for Luchenza they have to go and beg from Thyolo and Mulanje on how many houses they can offer,” Nyoni added.

The capacity building meeting was organised by Women Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec) with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.—Mana

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