By Jordan Simeon-Phiri, MEC Stringer
Chitipa’s Ulambya-Kaseye area development committee (ADC) members from traditional authority (T/A) Mwaulambya on Monday presented a petition addressed to Principal Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Charles Kalemba over what they say is their District Commissioner’s lack of seriousness on pertinent issues that are hampering socio-economic development of the district.
The petition was presented through DC himself, Michael Chimbalanga, barely a week after the DC shunned a meeting the ADC committee organized that sought for clarity on financial expenditure for some development funded projects in the district which they claim have a number of irregularities.
This, according to Ulambya-Kaseye ADC chairperson Yotamu Kabaghe, angered the committee members as it was the fourth consecutive time they had summoned the DC but without him showing up.
“We write to advise that the ADC meeting that took place on April 3 resolved to petition your office for intervention since the DC’s office is not giving us feedback on development funded projects raised with them. We, therefore, bring this issue to your attention so that you can address them.
“The fact of the matter is that on February 21, 2019 an extraordinary meeting was held and concerns were raised by the committee members that were supposed to be addressed by the DC, unfortunately, he did not show up.
“We summoned him on March 14 and 28 to a meeting but he did not respond, neither did he acknowledge receipt of the letters,” reads the petition in part.
In an interview, Kabaghe said as community leaders they resorted to petitioning the PS so that his office should intervene as the DC has failed his duties and is running the affairs of the office as his personal estate.
He said “there is too much secrecy” over DDF, CDF and LDF projects such as Namatubi CDSS laboratory, Mwakalomba school block, Nachitipa bridge, renovation of Chitipa model school block, Katutula CBCC whose works were done no receipt or invoice can be traced.
Speaking soon after receiving the petition, DC Chimbalanga assured the gathering that he would forward their document to the PS.
Justice and Peace project officer Abel Malumbira, whose office is implementing citizen and local government and accountability, through citizen action group, said the community members have the right to demand account by account of funds channeled to projects as one way of upholding transparency and accountability.
“We are glad that after several failed attempts to meet the DC, they have decided to take a step further. This shows that the community is empowered to demand information from duty bearers and that they know every step to follow when another one fails,” Malumbira said.
He added that the community members have the right to know how their money is used in terms of development at the Council level.
He further said that what Ulambiya-Kaseye members have done is within their fundamental principles of democracy.
JP of Karonga Diocese is implementing a three-year citizen and local government and accountability through citizen action group members with funding from Irish Aid through Danish Church Aid.
The project is aimed at empowering the community to demand transparency and accountability on public funds from duty bearers.