Phalombe district council has elected a Councillor who is currently answering theft charges as its new chairperson, Malawi24 can reveal.
Kalepa Mawere of Khongoloni ward was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of stealing 35 bags of cement meant for a development project in the district.
Mawere won the seat to replace Rex Malata of Mauzi ward on Tuesday after he defeated other four contestants with five votes out of 12 of the total votes.
Bridget Mtambalika of Migowi ward was voted as vice chairperson of the Southern Region located district council after she managed to defeat Noel Mudzapitako of Likulezi ward with six votes to four while two votes were declared null and void.
During the elections, Magistrate Damson Banda was a presiding officer alongside James Chimpeni who is Civic Education Officer for the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) in the district.
According to court documents sourced from Phalombe first grade magistrate court, Mawere is answering charges of theft and conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to sections 404 and 278 of the penal code respectively.
When contacted to comment on why the council allowed the suspect to contest for such a big position, District Commissioner Harry Phiri said the councillor is still innocent and there is nothing that can bar him from contesting.
“He is still innocent until proven otherwise, the court is yet to make a determination.
“But the best people who can comment are those who were voting, Councillors or Members of Parliament,” he said.
Efforts to speak with the said parties proved futile.
Speaking in an interview soon after being elected, Mawere told Malawi24 that he will do all he can to help in implementing plans for the President Peter Mutharika led government so as to develop the district.
He added that his main target is to end all sanitary problems that are affecting in many markets of the district.
“I will work with the District Health Office so that we should work on the things about unhygienic conditions which most businessmen ask whenever we go to collect market fees,” said Mawere.
Phalombe is one of the districts in the country where most of its infrastructure projects are substandard due to mismanagement of resources by authorities.