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Mzuzu councillors nearly fight in chamber

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A full Council meeting on Friday at Mzuzu City Council Chamber nearly turned into a boxing ring when councillors disagreed following the disbursement of K1.1 billion from the Development Budget Fund meant for road projects.

Every councillor wanted to benefit from the fund and the Mayor William Mkandawire, who chaired the meeting, was in the process accused of flouting procedures by demanding to vote and have a road from his Mchengautuba Ward benefit.

Government has pumped in K5.4 billion into the major cities for road development and Mzuzu was allocated K1.1 billion.

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In the last full council meeting in November last year, councillors approved construction of five roads within Mzuzu City and the Friday meeting was aimed at selecting priority roads from the five. The five roads are Nkholongo-Area 1B; Kawiriwiri-SOS-Kaboko; Airport-Chiputula-Katawa; Chibanja-Sungawana and Bishop- Mchengautuba-Nkhokwe.

Chaos and pandemonium that lasted for two hours erupted in the chamber when the office of Director of Planning and Development told the house that K1.1 billion would only be enough to tar six kilometres for the chosen roads at K150 million per kilometre.

At that point, every councillor wanted a road from his ward to be given priority and their debate ended in chaos, leading the chairperson to call for a secret ballot.

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The development angered Mchengautuba West Ward Councillor Denis Moyo (PP) who stood on point of order accusing the house of making “silly” mistakes by not following normal Standing Orders on the deliberations and voting process.

The Mayor ignored Moyo’s point of order and the voting process. Tempers flared involving Moyo, Masasa Ward Councillor Yona Mkandawire (DPP) and Lubinga Ward Khumbo Harawa (DPP).

The majority of the councillors were behind the Mayor, a development that made Moyo and Mkandawire reveal that the Mayor had already coaxed some councillors to vote for Bishop- Mchengautuba-Target road which is in his ward.

The situation worsened when the Nkholongo-Area 1B road was leading by six votes against four against the Mayor’s Bishop-Mchengautuba-Target road.

Seeing that he was losing, the Mayor declared to vote and that declaration did not go down well with many councillors because it was against Standing Orders.

Other councillors, Charles Mlogera (MCP) of Chibanja and Peterkins Mbale (PP) of Zolozolo West wards also joined Moyo trashing the votes.

Moyo jumped over the table and confiscated all the ballot papers while shouting at the Mayor and those behind him. The development angered the Mayor and other councillors as Gabriel Mwangulu of Chibavi West stood on the table geared to protect the Mayor from any physical attack.

“What you are doing is totally abnormal. Ukapitiliza tiswanapo apa (if you continue we shall fight).You are bringing confusion into the House. Why are you undermining the Mayor who is chairing the deliberations? If you continue you will see what I am going to do with you,” threatened Mwangulu, referring to Moyo.

Directors of departments who attended the proceedings were seen laughing while the Chief Executive Officer Macloud Kadammanja sat quietly shaking his head.

In an interview later, the Mayor said: “The way we have conducted ourselves in today’s deliberations cannot be allowed by people who voted for us into this house. This is shameful and we are still denting Mzuzu City Council’s image. I am apologising to the residents of Mzuzu for our conduct today.”

The mayor then directed that the votes be counted by the secretariat outside the chamber and the meeting was immediately adjourned.

In a separate interview, Kadammanja condemned the councillors’ conduct saying it would not bring development to the city.

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