The National Elections Systems Trust (Nest) has hailed accountability clubs the organisation established in Neno for the role they are playing in tracking down public expenditure thereby promoting transparency and accountability in all development programmes in the district.
Speaking on Friday during an interface meeting with accountability club members in Neno district, Nest programmes officer Odreck Kathamalo said through the clubs, some development projects that stalled for years have now resumed.
Said Kathamalo: “We are glad that through these clubs, community members are able to question the progress of development projects. For example, construction of a police unit at Lisungwi in the area of Senior Chief Symon which failed to commence since 2012 despite availability of building materials, has now commenced upon intervention by the members of accountability club in the area.”
Assistant Community Development Officer for Neno, Wickson Bvulumende, said through guidance from Nest, community members have a changed mind set and are not afraid to question leaders or contractors themselves on the progress of development projects.
Group village headman (GVH) Chidakwani said apart from trucking down public expenditure, the clubs are also looking into ways of dealing with other challenges facing the communities such as climate change.
“After experiencing incessant dry spells in the past years, we have decided to venture into afforestation programmes and have set up by-laws to arrest ill-practices such as wanton cutting down of trees and charcoal burning,” said GVH Chidakwani.
He said as stipulated in the by-laws, a chief who allows anyone to operate charcoal business in his area will be subject to a fine of two to four goats or stripped off his/her chieftaincy.
Neno district council chairperson Montfort Bwanali said through the clubs members of the community now appreciates their roles in instituting development in their areas unlike in the past where they only waited for elected leaders.
Nest is running the two year project with funding from the National Democratic Institute (NDI).