By Kondwani Magombo-MANA
Government has cautioned local and town councils against substandard implementation of infrastructure development in the country, saying some structures erected in some local councils ‘leave a lot to be desired.’
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa was speaking Wednesday when he opened the 2019 Local Authorities Conference in Mangochi.
Nankhumwa said since the introduction of Local Government Performance Assessment (LAPA) four years ago, some local authorities have performed well while others have not, especially on implementation of infrastructure development.
“LAPA was resuscitated as a measuring cylinder for local authorities’ performance,” said Nankhumwa. “I’m concerned with the hardware part of development in some local councils where some of the infrastructure is of poor quality and sub-standard, too,” he added.
Nankhumwa said in some cases, the amount of funds spent on a particular project could not correspond with the structure on the ground, citing the roads upgrading programme in some councils, which he said started on a bad note with a lot of work being sub-standard.
“It is pleasing to note now that the situation is improving and the roads are no longer of sub-standard just because government, through my ministry, intervened,” said Nankhumwa, adding that government would remain vigilant to ensure financial prudence in all councils.
Nankhumwa, therefore, called for citizen participation in all development projects implemented by local authorities for decentralization to take root.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary, Charles Kalemba said over the past five years there has been progress towards full realization of decentralization, especially with the availability of council political heads (councillors).
Kalemba disclosed that 17 functional sectors had since devolved and that their ORT (Other Recurrent Transactions) had also devolved and currently handled by local councils.
He said the making of District Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers to become controlling officers is an achievement that has come with decentralization.
“There has been remarkable progress in the implementation of decentralization in the country as evidenced by the councils now beginning to have clean financial records,” Kalemba said.
However, Kalemba warned that the ministry would deal with all officers involved in any misconduct to keep the decentralization process smooth.
“We are changing the disciplining of all wayward officers. We will not transfer the problems to anywhere but rather manage them right where they happen,” he said.
The three-day meeting has brought local authorities across the country together to review their performance on public sector reforms and service delivery.