The Mzuzu City Council has expressed optimism that the disputes over boundaries between Masasa and Msongwe Wards will finally be put to rest when the councilors and people from the two wards physically confirm the boundaries depicted in the maps from the Department of Physical Planning and Development at Mzuzu City Council.
According to Mzuzu City Council Chief Executive Officer Dr Macloud Kadam’manja, the resolution to physically confirm the boundaries follows meetings with the concerned Councilors as part of preparations for the Biometric Voter Registration which takes place in Mzuzu from October 27 to November 8, 2018.
“We have met members of the contested wards Masasa and Msongwe to work out the disputes. The boundaries are already there with the Department of Physical Planning, it is a matter of confirming for the people of Masasa and Msongwe,” said Kadam’manja.
However, in an interview, Judith Chime, Msongwe Ward Councilor expressed concern over the fate of the nearly 600 people whom she claims have been affected by the current dispute over the ward boundaries.
According to Chiume, the 600 lost a chance to benefit from the Local Development Fund (LDF) for the Public Works Programme under MASAF IV Project as they were designated to Chiume’s Msongwe Ward from Yona Mkandawire’s Masasa Ward after the LDF for 2017 had already been disbursed to the local leaders.
The affected people who reside around Masasa Primary School are still faced with the threat of missing out on the next LDF allocation if the electoral stakeholders resolve to keep the boundaries as they are.
“The problem on my side even on his part [Mkandawire] is that if part of Chief Abel’s Area is in Masasa and part of it is in Msongwe when figures for MASAF are allocated, let them also give me half of the figures for these people who came from Masasa.
“I got the people but did not get their figures for MASAF. If these people are in Msongwe let them be in Msongwe if they are in Masasa let them be in Masasa,” she said.
Chiume claimed that due to the boundary disputes, she was forced to cough out money amounting to MK 400, 000 to pay the affected people their due LDF allocations.
“It gave me strain last time because I had to fundraise to pay the people of Chief Abel’s Area. I did it with pleasure because they are people but I cannot keep doing it, let’s do it right once and for all. It’s the boundaries,” stressed Chiume.
When interviewed, Masasa Ward Councilor Yona Mkandawire expressed interest to see the boundaries clarified by MEC and Mzuzu City Council arguing that once resolved the new boundaries would also guide future councilors.
“As the Councilor, though my time is up, I am expecting that this issue will be resolved once and for all. Although I am not contesting. The Electoral Commission should be involved so that the people who will go ahead to stand in the wards and compete in the elections can know the boundaries,” said Mkandawire.
The Multi-Party Liaison Committee in Mzuzu, as mediator in the Masasa-Msongwe dispute, is expected to come up with the final resolution.
During the last month’s Multi-Party Liaison Committee meeting which was chaired by the Mzuzu City Council, the various electoral stakeholders resolved that Mzuzu City Council’s Planning Department in working with the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)’s Planning Department would produce maps to guide the next MPLC meeting on the matter.