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Review Malata subsidy programme

For the umpteenth time, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the Decent and Affordable Housing initiative, popularly known as Malata and Cement Subsidy Programme, which should, under normal circumstances, prompt the authorities to conduct a soul-searching exercise.

But, as usual, cries over programme implementation have fallen on deaf ears, with implementers of the five-year programme, which President Peter Mutharika launched in December 2014, maintaining that all is well with it.

To say the truth, the programme is a drain on national resources, more so when it will claim up to K14 billion of the national budget during the course of its implementation.

We believe that the programme is being implemented for political expediency, other than national good, as evidenced by the fact that only those who are influential in villages, or connected to the powers-that-be, are benefitting from the same.

Otherwise, it does not make sense that the programme, which is one of the issues raised in the 2014 Democratic Progressive Party manifesto, should benefit just six people in eight villages in the area of Traditional Authority Malili in Lilongwe.

It is also disheartening to learn that some intended beneficiaries are receiving less materials than what they are meant to receive.

It is even surprising that, while monitoring and evaluation are tenets of good project management, no one is talking about a mid-way evaluation. But, if the truth be told, it is only through a thorough review that we can be able to tell whether we are making headway.

We, therefore, agree with community members that there is need for a thorough audit of the programme. Otherwise, the initiative, with its good intentions, may turn out to be another scheme through which millions of taxpayers’ money are siphoned out of the system into people’s pockets.

What is surprising is that the ruling party has clung to the programme. When opposition Members of Parliament suggested, at the height of hunger last year, that the programme be shelved, the government side was adamant.

Which is why we know that the government does not consider the voice of reason when it comes to this programme. It is as if its political life depends on it.

In this regard, all we can say is that developments in Lilongwe should give us food for thought. All is not well with the Malata and Cement Subsidy initiative.

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