By Synd Kalimbuka
Centre for Social Concern has emphasized the need to empower communities in tracking public funds as one way to promote transparency and accountability in the implementation of various development projects in the country.
Programme Officer for Economic Governance at Centre for Social Concern Benard Mphepo said communities have the right and responsibility to demand transparency and accountability from duty bearers on every project being implemented.
In an interview after official opening of a 3-day training at Mango Lodge in Zomba, Mphepo said involvement of community to take part in tracking on public finance can easily assist to fight against corruption in Malawi which is creating a big gap between rich and poor people in Malawi.
“Citizens have a key role to play in implementation of projects in their areas which can promote the spirit of putting to good use public finances,” Mphepo said.
He added that to track on how public funds are financed need community empowerment on projects implementation.
“One of the process to empower citizens is to train them and build capacity on how they should track taxpayers money,” he added.
Sub traditional authority Nkapita said the training was an eye opener for the participants on demanding of transparency and accountability.
“Citizens and myself will start holding accountable the duty bearers and those responsible for any case related to mismanagement of funds designed for projects,” he said.
He mentioned the example of St Bridget Community Day Secondary school girls hostel in Zomba Lisanjala constituency which is yet to be completed after four years despite money being spent under constituency development fund (CDF).
Chairperson for S/TA Nkapita Area Development Committee (ADC) Redson Sumani was very happy to see representatives from all groups in the area such as the Youth, business, chiefs, CBO, Task force for Machinga Chingale Lirangwe road and others attending the training which he described as a crucial one on development.
Sumani concurred with S/TA Nkapita on the need to hold accountable those involved in construction of St Bridget Community Day Secondary school including the district council.
“If we leave things moving like this and clapping hands on everything, people in rural areas like those from Chingale will remain poor and underdevelopment will remain the same,” said Sumani.
Participants who attended the training came from two constituencies of Zomba Lisanjala and Zomba Chingale.
The intervention which SFSC is implementing will ensure that the funds that Malawi generate should be put to good use to reduce poverty levels and inequality.
According to 2018 Population and Housing Census, over 9 million people are at poverty stake.
In addition to that, some policies in Malawi favour the rich hence widening the gap between the rich and poor.
This gap has been increasing poverty levels for a period of 60 years in Malawi since independent.
According to the recent corruption report index by transparency international, Malawi has moved from position 123 to 129 showing that the country is not moving forward and not winning corruption battle.
Centre for Social Concern believes that the only way to win corruption battle in the country is to empower citizens to demand transparency and accountability through tracking of public funds.
CFSC also argued that duty bearers should be made accountable for ever action they take in implementation of different programmes.