Karonga District Council Wednesday resolved for immediate suspension and arrest of eight officers suspected to have been part of the syndicate that led to abuse of about K25 million meant for the Public Works Programme (PWP).
The agreement was reached at during a full council meeting.
The money was part of the K57 million which the council received from the Local Development Fund (LDF) last year.
Just after the resolution was passed, heavily armed police officers arrived on two patrol vehicles and picked some of the officers in question who were present at the meeting.
The three are District Physical Planning Officer, Philemon Maseko, Water Officer, Aaron Chaponda and David Yafeti Joseph of the Irrigation Department
Deputy Minister of Finance who is also Member of Parliament for Karonga North Constituency, Vincent Ghambi, said he will in a not-so-distant-future facilitate deployment of auditors to the council.
Ghambi said the development is not only denting the image of the district but also that of government.
“This is shameful. Karonga has made headlines for bad reasons long enough and it is high time we changed the narrative. We need a lasting solution to these shameful acts,” he said.
During the deliberations, Councillor Harry Mwanyembe who is responsible for issues of development, presented findings from the councillors’ and the Civil Society Organisations’ (CSOs) investigations which revealed various procurement anomalies during the implementation phase.
The inconsistencies ranged from unpurchased goods, doctored figures and overpricing.
Wavisanga Silungwe, who led CSO demonstrations against the council secretariat, said the group is satisfied with the resolution but was quick to say that the business community is yet to lift its boycott in remittance of market fees.
“This was a deliberate tactic to force the council to act on these officers quickly, but there are so many unresolved issues when it comes to financial management which we need them corrected for us to start paying our taxes again,” Silungwe said.
At the end of the day, the council proceeded to elect new office bearers for the various service committees.
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