Local Development Fund (LDF) projects in the central Malawi district of Dedza are shrouded in controversy, prompting some residents to accuse some district council officials of corrupt practices.
A report by the Youth and Children Rights Shield (Yocris), which was discussed at Dedza Boma on Tuesday during a Kalondolondo meeting, attracted a heated debate with some district council officials thrashing it, saying they were not consulted in coming with the report.
Acting Dedza district commissioner Fanny Msimuko, however, said in an interview on Wednesday they have since formed a committee to look into the allegations.
The Kalondolondo Programme is an initiative that tracks down implementation of projects under the LDF and provides a platform where communities participate in the budget processes.
According to the report, some houses under the LDF in 33 schools in the district are yet to be completed while others have been abandoned completely.
According to LDF set procedures, the local people are supposed to be in charge of the projects, but it is said that some officials take advantage of high illiteracy levels in the villages.
At Mgunditsa, the report alleges that over K300 000 was unaccounted for and when the members of the committee went to ask council officials, they were allegedly told that the money was deducted at the bank as bank charges.
At Mphunzi Primary School, it is alleged that over 85 bags of cement went unaccounted for while at Ntcheu Primary School, it is alleged that an official from the council withdrew 40 bags of cement promising that they will be exchanged with a solar system.
But Msimuko said the council should have been consulted in coming up with the report.
“The way the Kalondolondo report was made was like an ambush on us because there was no triangulation. Because of that, we have asked for a new committee which has already been formed to look into all the issues raised for proper handling and we are happy with that direction,” he said.
Yocris director Bright Kampaundi, who conducted the research, said they brought the issues at the forum as one way of finding solutions and giving everyone a chance to defend themselves.
Kalondolondo programme manager Jephter Mwanza said the Yocrisâ€™ report is important because it contains information from local people who are beneficiaries of the stalled projects.