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Nkhotakota full council members go on ‘leave’

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Nkhotakota District Council has failed to hold full council meetings for over a year now due to what authorities say is unavailability of money.

The council last convened a full council meeting in 2016 and, since then, only extra ordinary full council meetings which are funded by different organisations and government sectors have been held.

Extra ordinary full council meetings only discuss specific agendas, mainly of those who fund the deliberations.

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Last year, the members only met as full council to elect council chairperson. The development keeps on hampering progress and implementation of development activities which are planned and discussed at full council meetings.

Nkhotakota Council Chairperson, Thomas Kasache, said it was sad that the council has stayed for such a long time without meeting.

“Procedurally, full council meetings are supposed to be conducted three times a year but it is a concern that we have not met for over a year. This means that we cannot discuss or plan development activities. According to the secretariat, the problem is financial constraints. I am new in office so I cannot explain much but let me assure you that we will meet very soon,” Kasache said.

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Kasache said about K1 million is required to conduct a full council meeting. Last year, some Members of Parliament in the district also expressed concern that the district may continue lagging behind, in terms of development, if full council meetings are not conducted regularly.

“Full council meetings are where we engage technocrats to discuss development issues but each time we ask for these meetings, the response is that the council has no money. If we cannot meet, how can we carry out development works,” Nkhotakota Central Parliamentarian, Peter Mazizi, said.

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson, Muhlabase Mughogho, said a full council meeting will be conducted anytime soon.

“The council organised a full council meeting last year funded by AfDB [African Development Bank] water project. However, some councillors and MPs walked out of the meeting, protesting that they would like to convene as full council using ORT [Other Recurrent Transactions] funding. In December, the council prioritised salaries for staff; hence, it was not possible to hold full council meeting. Nevertheless the council will hold full council using January ORT funding,” Mughogho said.

Contrary to Mughogho’s response, the council has been struggling to pay direct employees due to unavailability of money. Some employees we talked to said they are yet to receive their salaries for five months. District Commissioner Felix Mkandawire last year said the council was failing to collect enough revenue.

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