By Synd Kalimbuka
Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has recovered K1, 256, 000 which was given to ghost beneficiaries under the 2020/2021 Lean Season Response programme in Zomba district.
According to a report Malawi24 has seen, there are 396 ghost beneficiaries created by group village heads and committee members under the programme which is currently targeting 24, 891 households.
The report also exposes some chiefs who demand money from beneficiaries after cash distribution is done.
District Commissioner for Zomba Dr Smart Gwedemula confirmed to have received this report.
Gwedemula said some chiefs in the district were demanding cash from beneficiaries while others had ghost beneficiaries’ names.
With intervention by Res Cross, through complaints and feedback mechanism, suggestion boxes and help desk during and after distribution, 396 ghost beneficiaries were removed and replacement of right beneficiaries has been done.
The Commissioner has since promised to take disciplinary action against those involved chiefs and Committee members.
“What I have done is that I have requested Malawi Red Cross to give me names of chiefs and community members who did the malpractices for further action,” said Gwedemula.
He said his office will not tolerate malpractices which he said interrupt government efforts to assist Vulnerable people in the country.
He advised chiefs in the district to play facilitation role in the implementation of Lean Season Response programme.
Among the challenges in this year’s Response programme include situations where chiefs and development committee members were hiding some information to their subjects during registration process to beat guidelines.
Most of the concerns raised were coming from Traditional Authority Mwambo in the district.
Similar concerns are encountered in the area of Sub Traditional Authority Nkapita where chiefs and committee members were demanding and snatching cash from beneficiaries.
The money recovered, number of affected beneficiaries and chiefs involved are expected to increase as similar cases are being reported every day.
Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee report of 2020/2021 Lean Season revealed that 2.6 Million households in Malawi are likely to be food insecure between December 2020 and March 2021.
World Food programme (WFP) with support from Malawi government and USAID is supporting the needy households in Zomba with cash amounting to K23, 100 per month to enable them to buy food stuffs.
In Zomba, the project is being implemented by Malawi Red Cross Society in collaboration with Zomba district council.