Dedza Community Development Office has cautioned people in the district against forming village savings and loans (VSL) groups, popularly known as Banki Mkhonde, without seeking guidance from it.
Dedza community development officer Mary Gama said there is a boom in VSL groups that start without following procedures, stressing that such groups have ended up impoverishing members because they lack mentorship.
She said this in relation to a recent case in which 47-year-old Frank Nkhoma is suspected to have connived with his wife to be reported missing when he went to Lilongwe after failing to repay a VSL loan.
Said Gama: “When we are engaged, those issues are ironed out because an individual who is joining Banki Nkhonde is always aware of rules of the game.
“An individual should not take a loan that is more than his or her savings so that when they are failing to pay back they should be covered by what they saved.
“VSL groups that are being mobilised anyhow are those that are causing conflicts. When groups involve us, they go under a process of mentorship and members who fail to comply fall out automatically. At the end of the day, members who are left to manage the group are only those who are capable.”
She encouraged people who have their properties seized for defaulting on loans not to suffer in silence, but to lodge complaints at her office or to community development assistants.
The wife had reported to village head (VH) Kapalamula of Traditional Authority (TA) Kachere in the district that her husband had gone to Dedza Mountain for overnight prayers alone and did not return in the morning.
VH Kapalamula confirmed the development in a separate interview, saying following the report, he organised men to search for the man on the mountain, but did not find him or a dead body.
The wife later revealed her husband’s whereabouts after members of the VSL group confronted her. n