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Councils warned over abuse of funds

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District councils have been asked to guard against corruption and mismanagement of funds intended for rural development.

The call comes at a time some Local Government players have complained that they are sidelined in the execution of District Development Fund (DDF) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects.

Ministry of Local Government spokesperson, Muhlabase Mughogho, said in an interview that ministry officials will not hesitate to take to book anyone involved in malpractices.

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Mughogho said, at local level, Area Development Committees (ADCs) are required to submit monthly reports to district councils on activities they want to be implemented before funds are released.

“Due to limited financial basket funding, most councils are not able to implement all the projects and activities of ADCs; hence, locals claim [that there is] abuse of funds,” Mughogho said.

On the other hand, a public expenditure tracking exercise conducted by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust has shown that issues of abandonment of projects, resource depletion before project completion and exclusion of stakeholders who play an oversight role are common across the country.

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Nice Public Relations Officer, Grace Hara, observed that duty-bearers are sometimes mean with information regarding projects; hence, people are kept in the dark on some projects, thereby creating room for speculation of foul play.

“Sometimes even political elements with links to Members of Parliament influence the execution of projects at the expense of structures elected by the community, which is contrary to decentralisation terms,” Hara said.

According to four districts The Daily Times visited recently, people are always taken unawares on development projects being implemented in their areas and the amount of money used.

In Kasungu District, for example, Group Village Headman Kaluluma Phiri said projects in his area are executed without a working committee, making funds-tracking within the council difficult.

In Ntchisi District, stakeholders also decried lack of transparency and accountability by council and political leaders, saying most development projects are complete only on paper and not on the ground.

Councillor Yona Mvula said he was surprised to see contractors working on the construction of Chafumbi Bridge in his Kaliramasamba Ward, Chidambo Village, Traditional Authority Vuso Jere, without his knowledge.

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