The Mulanje grouping dubbed Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain (CPM) has pulled out of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which it was contemplating to sign with the Blantyre Water Board (BWB) and the Mulanje District Council, The Daily Times has learnt.
The MoU involves planting of trees in Mulanje Mountain before the board starts tapping water from the mountain.
CPM Secretary, David Majeweta said in an interview on Thursday, that their pulling out from the MoU is due to some anomalies in the run up to the signing of the memorandum. He said other parties such as the BWB, The Mulanje District Forestry Department, the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and some chiefs have ganged up to frustrate his grouping.
He claimed that they have gathered information that MMCT has given money to some chiefs such as Group Village Head Nankhonya of the area to mobilise her subjects to dissolve the CPM committee.
“The other parties in the MoU are telling community members that our group is controversial and we want to sabotage the water project. They are giving wrong information to their subjects, so we know that the chiefs and officers at the forestry department have pocketed money from MMCT and BWB. As such, we have pulled out because we don’t want to work with people who are corrupt,” Majeweta alleged.
But MMCT Spokesperson, Kondwani Chamwala, distanced the organisation from the accusations saying they are not involved in any corrupt practices.
“You can ask the chiefs who are mentioned if we gave them the said money. I have no further comment on that because we did not even sign the MoU. It was revised that it will be signed between BWB and the Mulanje District Council, so we are not aware of the said claims,” Chamwala said.
Senior Group Village Head Nankhonya also distanced herself from the allegations saying she is only representing her people who want an assurance from BWB that it will be undertaking corporate social responsibilities in the area.
“This is not the first time they are accusing me of taking bribes from organisations starting projects in my area. The thing is that there are divisions within CPM because the leaders of the group were neglecting their friends, they could attend meetings on their own without consulting their friends who felt betrayed. That is why all this is happening,” said GVH Nankhonya.
In an emailed response to our questionnaire BWB Spokesperson, Priscilla Mateyu, said the board respects the group’s decision to bow out of the MoU.
“The board is aware that the grouping is out of the Memorandum of Understanding which is there between Blantyre Water board and other parties. The board denies any issues regarding any forms of bribery. The board has never at any point in time bribed any chiefs or local community leaders in a quest to find favour to tap water from Mulanje Mountain,” Mateyu said.
She also challenged anyone believing that the board has corrupted anyone to come forth with evidence to relevant authorities.
The decision to withdraw from the MoU comes just a week after the group met Agriculture and Water Development Minister, George Chaponda, where they apologised for stoning him when he inspected the project in August.
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