Pacenet board member Veronica Sembereka was speaking at Luchenza Municipality in Thyolo on Monday at the opening of a three-day Master Trainers Workshop.
She said the development agenda at local level continues to be engineered by central government and facilitated by local political functionaries and traditional leaders, resulting in limited and controlled citizen participation.
Sembereka said the decentralisation policy created institutional structures such as the local council and its sub-committees, the Area Development Committees (ADCs), the Village Development Committees (VDCs) through which citizens could participate in the planning, implementation and monitoring of development projects.
â€œHowever, a baseline survey Pacenet conducted in Chiradzulu, Machinga and Thyolo districts shows that 13 years down the line, people at the grass roots continue to be spectators in development activities,â€ she said.
Sembereka said through a one-year project on enhancing citizen action for justice, development and democratic governance at local levelâ€”Zotheka, 89 VDCs in Chiradzulu, 72 VDCs in Thyolo and five ward committees in Luchenza Municipal Councilâ€”would help communities to effectively fulfil their roles and functions and through them to create a critical grass roots mass that can demand transparency.
The project was funded by the British Department for International Development (DfID), Irish Aid, European Union and the Royal Norwegian Embassy through Tilitonse Fund.