The Mzuzu City Council has warned block leaders and chiefs in Masasa and Msongwe Wards to desist from corruptly including beneficiaries into the Local Development Fund (LDF) allocations.
Mzuzu City Council Director of Planning and Development (PDP) Alexander Chirambo sounded the warning on Saturday at Masasa Primary School during a fact-finding meeting organized by the Council, LDF Officials and the Malawi Electoral Commission to resolve disagreements over LDF beneficiaries which ensued as a result of misunderstandings on the boundary separating Masasa and Msongwe Wards.
“We are working on ways to assist those from Masasa who lost a chance to participate in the LDF but you should make sure that whenever a beneficiary moves from Masasa or dies, include those people who were originally listed to benefit. Do not enlist people from your house or your relatives because that is corruption,” Chirambo warned.
The DPD also advised the Councillors of both Wards to adhere to the Boundaries set by MEC and include all legitimate beneficiaries from their own wards only during allocation of the LDF figures.
In the LDF Fund of the Public Works Programme under MASAF IV Project, poor communities are provided with social safety nets by participating in the works on community-led development projects such as maintaining roads.
In Msongwe Ward, 696 beneficiaries were enlisted and vetted to benefit from the LDF allocated to Msongwe while in Masasa Ward 721 beneficiaries were enlisted.
However, disagreements ensued when Councillor for Masasa Ward pushed over 80 people to join Msongwe Ward citing over population in Masasa as one reason.
Records at Mzuzu City Council indicate that although the Msongwe Ward Councillor, Judith Chiume, roped in the 80, the LDF allocations of the 80 could not be transferred to Msongwe as LDF procedures prohibit changing names of beneficiaries during the three years of the initiative unless a beneficiary dies or moves out of an area. This prompted the Msongwe Ward Councillor, Chiume to pay the 80 legitimate LDF beneficiaries from her pocket in 2017.
At the meeting, some of the block leaders from Masasa bemoaned the absence of their Ward Councillor Yana Mkandawire accusing Mkandawire of creating the conflicts and lacking commitment to resolve the same.
However, the Masasa Ward Councillor Yona Mkandawire when contacted denied ignoring the meeting but blamed communities in Masasa of lacking understanding in selection of LDF beneficiaries.
“It is a thing that has been resolved. I delegated some people to attend the meeting on my behalf since I had already made other plans and I knew about the programme that same day. There are only 721 beneficiaries in the whole Masasa Ward but the problem is they want the whole village to participate in the LDF which is not possible,” said Mkandawire.
The fact-finding meeting was attended by the Msongwe Ward Councillor Judith Chiume, Block Leaders from both Masasa and Msongwe Wards, traditional leaders, Council officials, LDF Representatives and a Representative from MEC.
There are 15 Wards in Mzuzu City. In 2014, MEC re-demarcated some wards in the City to pave way for efficient management of electoral processes such as voter registration and voting.