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K7.6 billion Masaf 4 project under audit

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There are fears that part of the K7.6 billion Malawi Social Action Fund phase four (Masaf 4) funds might not have been put to good use following reports of financial misappropriation by local authorisers that include chiefs, councillors and government officials.

Following these widespread reports of irregularities, government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has dispatched auditors to all the 35 local government councills to investigate extent of the said irregularities.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, said government has discovered that some councillors and chiefs were conniving with council officials to defraud government by, among other means, bloating numbers of beneficiaries of the project.

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He made the remarks in Mangochi on Monday when he presided over the elevation of Traditional Authority Nankumba to Senior Chief.

Without singling out a specific district, Nankhumwa said government will not spare any official who will be found guilty of misappropriating the funds which he said are meant to benefit the local people as well as improving the state of infrastructure in remove areas.

“We have information that there are some chiefs who are conniving with councillors and district council officials to defraud government by bloating numbers of beneficiaries. This is corruption and it is evil regardless of who is involved. As government, we will wait for the audit reports in order to act on those who will be found to have violated principles of good governance while administering the Masaf 4 project,” Nankhumwa said.

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Three months ago, government released about K7.6 billion meant for Masaf 4 projects which, among other things, was intended to go towards environmental management, rural and peri-urban infrastructure development and tree planting.

But the project is reported to have met some implementation and operational challenges which are said to have negatively contributed to the success of the project if one is to compare the amount spent against the registered results on the ground.

In some instances, councils are suspected to have been withdrawing funds for the projects which did not take place, a thing which has made the ministry conduct audit exercise into the councils to establish the extent of the abuse of the funds.

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