Cases where Village Development Committee (VDC) members demand sex from female beneficiaries of social cash transfer programs have ended at Pwemphwe in Thyolo following the intervention of National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE).
The community members of Pwemphwe, Area of Group Village Headman Nkhata, Traditional Authority Changata in Thyolo told Malawi24 that times of oppression and corruption are over in the area.
According to the residents of Pwemphwe, they were being oppressed, sidelined and deprived of development while women were being forced to have sex with Village Development Committee (VDC) members to benefit from social programs.
In an interview, Village Headman Khweliwa of Pwemphwe, Group Village Nkhata in the area of Traditional Authority Changata, said in recent years VDCs used to mismanage their responsibility when it comes to development.
“We were challenged that we will no longer see any development coming in our areas. They took advantage that we are in remote areas so they used to threaten and infringe us knowing that we can’t go anywhere,” said Khweliwa.
He further said VDC members used to demand sex from women for them to be registered as beneficiaries for social cash transfer social cash transfer programs
“In case organizations or well-wishers brought aid or donation, VDC members used to demand sex from women while men were being demanded to pay cash amount of K10,000 for them to be included too,” said Khweliwa.
Commenting on the matter, one of the citizens of Pwemphwe (name withheld), concurred with Village Headman Khweliwa saying it was really happening but they had nowhere to report because of fear and also lacked of guidance on rights and freedom.
However, Pwemphwe Area received its deliverance from oppression and corruption in 2019 when NICE Trust in Thyolo intervened by opening eyes and civic educate community members about their rights.
District Civic Education Officer for NICE in Thyolo Moses Kaunda said they delivered Pwemphwe by unlocking Public Works Program which was seen that the communities were not benefiting from the program as it was mismanaged by their own VDCs.
Kaunda added that people of Pwemphwe were just watching by then, because they did not know what to do and were afraid to engage the leaders, hence, NICE came in.
“We came in to address that issue so that people should benefit from the resources which emanate from their taxes. Therefore, we facilitated the formulation of Pwemphwe Citizen Forum to help in the process of engaging the leaders so that there is change. And the village heads of Pwemphwe area who were also the victims, were constantly involved,” said Kaunda.
Following the intervention by the NICE Trust, doors for developments in the area have been now opened and currently, school blocks have been built, water development is underway and the corrupt leaders have been flushed out.