Government has warned chiefs who allegedly bloat numbers of beneficiaries in public works programme with an intention to steal money meant for wages.
The World Bank last year signed a $75 million (about K40.5 billion) financial agreement with the government to cover the financing gap for ongoing project activities under the Malawi Social Action Fund 4 (Masaf 4).
The bank has allocated $68.2 million of the amount as a grant while $6.8 million is a loan allocated to the country’s 28 districts with an aim of improving income of smallholder farmers.
Speaking when he elevated four chiefs to the position of Sub- Traditional Authority (STA) status on Monday, Local Government Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, said government is already investigating the matter.
“In some district councils, the programmes have stalled due to differences between traditional leaders and technical personnel at district level on the number of beneficiaries of the programme.
“Chiefs in some districts are presenting more names to the councils’ yet the numbers registered on the ground should be less than half of the presented figures. Their aim is to pocket the rest of the money,” said Nankhumwa, describing the malpractice as theft by public servant.
He, however, refused to disclose how much money was involved but said the matter is being handled and resolved internally.
Among the chiefs elevated on Monday in Chitipa were STAs Nthengatenga, Wavikaza, Lwanga Mwangulukulu and Mwakawanga.
Nankhumwa justified the elevation of the chiefs despite the economic problems the country is going through, saying that the Chitipa case is unique as the district had no STAs for a long time.
“The area where the chiefs come from was too big and it become ungovernable by one chief, hence there was need to have STAs.
“Bringing in four STAs is not going to drain resources but instead will help the people of Chitipa share the national cake of development just like many other districts,” he said.
Paramount Chief Kyungu, who also attended the elevation ceremony blamed the Joyce Banda administration of deliberately blocking the elevation of eight chiefs in Karonga and Chitipa whose names were submitted back in 2013.
“We don’t know why her government decided to sit on the promotions. But now we feel that things will move faster,” Kyungu said.
He said Chitipa has had no STAs since 1934 and that the area has greatly missed out on development projects because of the omission.
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