The council for non-governmental organizations in Malawi (CONGOMA) has emphasized on the need for the public to take an active role in various interventions bordering on public procurement at local and national level.
The call was made during a training workshop for Balaka based civil society organizations (CSOs) facilitated by CONGOMA with the aim to equip the CSOs with the capacity and expertise in as far as procurement monitoring is concerned.
According to Simekilina Kaluzi, programme manager at CONGOMA, there is knowledge gap on matters surrounding public procurement and disposal of assets (PPDA) act and this creates a vacuum on issues of transparency and accountability.
Kaluzi highlighted that issues of public procurement are very critical hence a need to hold the public officers accountable.
‘’As you can see, a better chunk of money in the national budget goes to procurement sector. Therefore, there is a need to properly monitor whatever transaction surrounding that money because it concerns the citizenry,’’ he said.
He stressed that if the money meant for public use is misappropriated, it’s the people who faces the heat at the end.
During the training, it was observed that most of the CSOs do not fully understand the nitty-gritty covering the topic in question.
It was also discovered that sometimes, the councils don’t engage CSOs in the process of procurement of public goods, works and services.
Kaluzi challenged the CSOS and the general public to be the agents of change by holding the public officers accountable in order to enhance better resource utilization among public officers.
He pointed out that Balaka district council has been selected as a study area in the project because in the immediate past, issues of procurement were worse and things reached an alarming rate but now the situation has significantly improved.
However, the CSOs expressed worry over the tendency by most public officers who resist giving out information when asked to do so.
Nonetheless, CONGOMA assured them that all the necessary stakeholders in the project including the National Audit office (NAO), office of the director of public procurement and disposal of assets (ODPPDA) and the district councils have been briefed on the matter and have since given a nod to the project.
On his side, chairperson of the Balaka civil society network Charles Sinetre expressed satisfaction with the training saying that it has equipped them with the capacity to track various development projects happening at the council level.
‘’It’s very critical to monitor the public officers because issues of corruption are rampant in most government institutions.Therefrore, our role in the project is very crucial,’’ Sinetre said.
Over 50 officials drawn from various CSOs in Balaka attended the training.
The one year project will be implemented in Balaka, Lilongwe and Rumphi districts with financial support of 80 million Euros.