Chairperson for the Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) Blantyre Chapter Andrew Mwantani says development budget should be handled at council level as part of decentralisation and to speed up the country’s development rate.
Mwantani was speaking in Blantyre, area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Somba during the opening of a two day capacity building training for members of Village Development Committee (VDC).
Mwantani said the country’s councillors are failing to perform due to lack of empowerment as most of the funds are handled by either members of Parliament (MPs) or the central government.
“We have observed that even though councillors are said to be champions of development, the situation is not the same on the ground. Most of the time there are no funds to carry out development projects as they wait for the central government to make consultations and despite several interventions, members of Parliament still dictate the use of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Local Development Fund (LDF),” he said.
According to Mwantani, councillors deal directly with communities and know exactly the kind of development projects the people need while the central government looks after all the councils in the country and most of the time spends more time in consultation “and this in most cases derails development.”
Mwantani, said he believes when properly trained, council secretariats with the help of District Development Committee can properly handle and utilise huge sums of money on the development budget.
One of the participants at the training, Ellen Matchuwa who is Chairperson for Mwangata Village Development Committee said through such training, communities in the area are able to probe for accountability from duty bearers, take ownership of development projects and track down development projects taking place in their areas.
Said Matchuwa: “In the past we used to be spectators and we ended up being manipulated by politicians while some projects were vandalised due to lack of ownership but now our eyes are opened and our areas are developing.”