Local leaders from Thyolo, Chiradzulu and Machinga have said the delay by Parliament in enacting the Access to Information bill into law is negatively affecting their quest to probe development projects.
They made the remarks on Tuesday in Luchenza during a review meeting for the Zotheka Project by Pan African Civic Educators network (Pacenet) with funding from Tilitonse.
They included members of Area Development Committees (ADC), Village Development Committees (VDC), Chiefs, Councillors and district council officials.
In his presentation, Traditional Authority (T/A) Sitola of Machinga said they are failing to properly monitor development projects due to lack of transparency and accountability by other stakeholders involved in development work.
Sitola specifically accused some stakeholders involved in the implementation of Local Development Fund (LDF) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) of lacking transparency.
“This is fuelling a war between MPs and Councillors as they still fight to control the funds. I have a situation in my area where a member of parliament is not in talking terms with one councillor from his area and they avoid each other to the extent that they refuse to attend meetings together,” said the Chief.
He bemoaned the tendency by some politicians who use the CDF and LDF to gain political mileage.
It transpired in the meeting that some MPs choose ADC members and impose on the council committee contractors for development projects.
“People accuse council officials of incompetency but we are also in a fix, imagine a situation where by LDF cheque comes in the name of the MP. We think the treasury is also fuelling this problem,” argued one participant.
Pacenet executive director Steven Duwa hailed the project. He said he was happy to see local citizens providing checks and balances and giving out views regarding the running of development projects in their areas.
Duwa also pleaded with Parliament to pass the Access to Information Bill as it was crucial in ensuring transparency and accountability.
Government failed to table the Bill during the last parliamentary sitting which ended last Friday.
Leader of the house Francis Kasaila said Minister of Information and Civic Education Jappie Mhango who was expected to table the Bill had been taken ill at the eleventh hour.