Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Grace Maseko’s planned tour of projects under the Community Savings and Investment Promotion (Comsip) in Nkhata Bay District on Friday ended in vain as members of the target clubs did not turn up.
This happened despite assurances from officials that all was well.
Before leaving for Chombe, Nkhata Bay district council officials briefed Maseko about the success stories of Comsip in the district and presented to her names of the groups and their performance which impressed the minister.
But the impressions the minister got ended into disappointment as members of the sample group, Chombe Cluster, did not converge on the agreed place, citing rainfall as the reason.
But before departure, Nkhata Bay district community development officer Victor Matayataya assured the minister that the group was waiting to be visited, but upon arrival at Chombe school, no single member of the group could be seen.
After the entourage had taken their seats, Matayataya was seen talking to the minister and then addressed the entourage saying the club members failed to come because a river had flooded.
Despite the wet soil, Maseko ordered the entire crew to drive to the said river which was said to have over flooded to see the truth for herself.
The seven-vehicle convoy drove to Lwambaza Bridge, about 10kms away from Chombe school inside the community where at the time of arrival, the bridge was not flooded.
Chairperson of the club, Leftan Kamanga, who made himself available at the bridge, said in defence that the bridge was flooded early in the morning. Later, he said some members of the club had already gone to the venue of the meeting, a statement some members of the entourage disputed.
Asked why she insisted on visiting the bridge, the minister said she wanted to see the condition of the bridge for herself.
In an interview later, Matayataya said although he was only told of the minister’s visit on Thursday, the club members were ready but rainfall disturbed them.
Established under the Cooperative Societies Act No 36 of 1998 and became operational in 2007, Comsip was born out of the need to serve the community members who are organised into Comsip groups and cooperatives.