Member of Parliament (MP) for Phalombe North Anna Kachikho has been criticised by her constituents , councillors and traditional leaders for using party structures in development projects under constituency development fund (CDF).
The criticisms were sounded on Wednesday during a development interface meeting facilitated by Development Communications Trust (DCT) implementing a Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) project in the area alongside Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP).
Kachikho, franked by party officials at the meeting, was questioned for using party zealots including a constituency secretary only identified as Mr Chinawa who is alleged to have been signing for projects instead of councillors for respective areas.
Traditional Authority (T/A) Jenala sounding so concerned wondered why this was so adding that even chiefs were being sidelined.
” I would like to know if the laws of Malawi have changed so much that traditional leaders are no longer considered important in development?” Wondered Jenala.
The interface unveiled that stakeholders in the constituency were satisfied with the way projects under similar funds such as Local Development Fund ( LDF ) and District Development fund ( DDF) were being implemented but have enormous problems with those under CDF which are said to be wholly manned by the MP.
“I never thought I had a say in anything to do with CDF until I was enlightened by DCT (Development Communications Trust), when we started tracking that’s when we discovered someone from the party had been doing what we were supposed to do,” said Nthundu ward councillor Francis Nunkhazingwe.
Khongoni ward councillor Kalepa Mawere did not mince word but mentioned the constituency secretary a Mr Chinawa as the one who had been signing for work certifying that contractors had completed work and therefore issued recommendations to council secretariat for payment.
Guidelines require respective ward councilors sign for work that have been done in their wards together with community member representatives to enable council secretariat issue payment for the work.
Such were the procedures Kachikho has been blamed to have been flouting.
Kachikho was defenseless as she conceded to all the accusations against her however she said she was using party structures to speed up development projects in the area.
“People in the constituency did not want to be involved so I had no choice, I can’t deny, I have been using party members sidelining respective ADC [Area Development Committee] members.
Some of the works that sparked rage from people of T/A Jenala include fumigation works at Chitekesa Police Station where K800, 000 was spent just for removing some bee nests that had been formed inside the building and construction of Saidi community-based child care centre (CBCC) where out of K3 million which was provided only K800,000 was used in construction materials.
Phalombe District Council development committee chairperson Dickson Khamukhamu called on council secretariat to help end abuse of funds by ensuring only those eligible are involved in implementation of CDF projects just like what is done in other projects. He also blamed the secretariat for hiding CDF guidelines from councilors which he said made them unaware of their roles.
Director of Finance at the council, Lonnex Kandiado, standing in for district commissioner (DC) said it was good that the honorable MP had accepted she had been doing wrong.
He said: “We have heard for ourselves our honourable (MP) saying she had been doing wrong, let us now start on a fresh page and make Phalombe North developed.”
Finally an agreement was signed for by the MP, Councillors and constituents on a way forward which will see party members removed from overseeing project works in place of responsible development committees.
With funding from Tilitonse through OXFAM, DCT and CCJP are empowering local citizens to hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.