Local governance and development structures under Phalombe District Council are nothing but routine entities as guidelines are not followed during implementation of projects under Local Development Fund (LDF), Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and District Development Fund (DDF).
This, according to councillors, chiefs and some Members of Parliament (MPs) in the district, has been due to poor knowledge of the guidelines that are there to govern identification of projects, application for funds, expenditure on projects and monitoring and evaluation among other things.
Speaking during a development review meeting organised by the Development Communication Trust (DCT) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Sunday, councillors and traditional authorities who are the backbone of local development in a democracy openly said they were aware that funds for community development have guidelines but do not know what the guidelines say.
Mpasa Ward Counillor Damson Chiphaka said over the past two and a half years after elections, the guidelines have been totally forgotten that during implementation of projects funded by government through the three windows, it is an MP alone—or with other people of their choice—who handles everything for the entire period of the project, sidelining all recommended structures such as Area Development Committees (ADCs) and the secretariat.
“Additionally, as councillors, we were not provided with copies of the guidelines by the council secretariat so that we could be referring to in times of need, as such we act in total darkness when it comes to LDF, CDF and DDF,” he said.
Phalombe Director of Planning and Development Morson Magombo said the secretariat was aware of some knowledge gap among councillors on the guidelines although he said the councillors were trained in the same soon after their election in the 2014 polls.
He said there was lack of interest in some councillors and ADCs to have the copies as they have never asked for them.
DCT Project Officer Zione Mayaya said the situation was not good for development as it puts government’s funds at a risk of being mismanaged due to lack of coordination among MPs, councillors and development committees in implementing projects.
One of the principle guidelines of the CDF is that the district council secretariat is supposed to conduct a project appraisal on CDF projects in order to ensure that they adhere to acceptable government and sector standards.
However, through the meeting, it was said the Phalombe District Council secretariat is also sidelined in the implementation process as the only role it plays is releasing funds for the projects.
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