By Mandy Pondani:
Government has rejected the demand by Mzuzu City Council (MCC), asking for reimbursement of about K11 million to settle outstanding bills incurred during the 54th independence celebrations which were held at Mzuzu Stadium on July 6.
MCC, two months ago, wrote Director of Public Events asking for the reimbursement saying the expenditure towards the celebrations was not in the budget and that it affected a number of Council’s operations.
The council, in a letter following a meeting on August 1, gave government up to August 3 2018 to settle the bill, citing they were receiving pressure from creditors.
“…The Committee, therefore, resolved that National Events Committee should honour the outstanding payments as suppliers are asking those who got materials, chairs, fuel and allowances on credit. The Committee further observed and resolved that the amount is too huge to be borne by the Mzuzu City Council,” the letter reads in part.
On the other hand, ward councillors at the council have also been piling pressure on the secretariat for the decision saying it was out of order for MCC to shoulder responsibility of financing an annual public function which is always in government’s plans.
But government spokesperson, who is also Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi said in a telephone interview Thursday they find it strange for MCC to ask for reimbursement of the money.
He said government departments and well-wishing companies have responsibility to contribute towards such public events.
“Well, the line ministry and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) could be looking into the matter but I am sure there is no justification really as to why the Mzuzu Council should be given that money,” he said.
Dausi said it is high time people working in various government institutions embraced the spirit of patriotism for the country regardless of political affiliation and stop descending on government unnecessarily and issuing ultimatums.
Luwinga Ward Councillor Khumbo Harawa said: “Okay, that’s government’s position but the blame is on our secretariat for making decisions unilaterally, money decisions for that matter which have huge repercussions on council operations.”
MCC Director of Finance Dickson Mwagomba said their hands are tied.
The initial budget for the event, which was presided over by President Peter Mutharika, was initially pegged at K50 million but was later trimmed to K35 million after government indicated it would not foot the whole amount.
Then the Department of Public Events gave the council K15 million without commitment of squaring the deficit.
Some well-wishers contributed K7 million, forcing the council to cover the remaining amount from its coffers.
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