The abandoned sports centre project
* The ad hoc committee is auditing Constituency Development Fund management
* Contractor for Ndirande Malabada sports centre abandons project despite being paid
* It needs to be resumed all over again—complains MP Ismail Mkumba
By Duncan Mlanjira
The ad hoc Parliamentary Committee — that was formed to scrutinize and audit management of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Water Development Fund Guidelines — visited Ndirande Malabada projects but was allegedly diverted away from an abandoned sports centre that is under construction.
This is despite Ndirande Malabada Constituency MP, Ismail Rizziq Mkumba alerting some of the ad hoc committee members of the project and its progress after the delegation had been taken to a foot bridge on Nasolo River that connects Ndirande Hill Secondary School and the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) residential neighborhood.
This foot bridge was initiated by MP Mkumba of the UDF together with DPP Councillor Thom Lita and the sports centre project is situated about 200 meters away from where the ad hoc Parliamentary Committee’s convoy had parked and also clearly visible from the spot where the delegation gathered.
But when they started off, Mkumba said he was surprised the convoy did not make a detour to the sports project but proceeded to Ndirande Police Station.
Mkumba said when he enquired at Ndirande Police Station as to why they did not insist on visiting the site, he was told they didn’t want to antagonize the Council officials.
A day prior to the ad hoc committee visit (December 3), Mkumba had a meeting with some members of the MHC residential community (commonly known as Malaysia) to be appraised of the challenges being faced and high on agenda was a request to have the access road from Chinseu to be rehabilitated.
He was told that people have started believing that he had renegaded on his campaign promise to push for the rehabilitation of the stretch of this road, which is about a kilometre long.
The tarred road ends at the spot where the sports project is being constructed and from there the road is on a dirt stretch as it branches towards Malabada Health Centre, which is managed by the Blantyre Synod of the CCAP.
This dirt stretch, which is a lifeline for ambulances to and from the Malabada Health Centre, is equally in bad shape — now made worse following the rains.
Mkumba explained that he has not renegaded on his promise to have the Chinseu to Malaysia road rehabilitated but that he had been promised by the City Council that it needs a complete overhaul and not just repairs.
“I am told the total overhaul of this road needs over K800 million and could become much more expensive if they are to just do spot maintenance and repair works,” the MP said.
“I know that I am shouldering the blame as the MP but people must appreciate that the MP and Councillor are not responsible for the management of the CDF, but the City Council is.
“But, together with Councillor Lita, we are doing all we can to push for the development agendas we promised.”
He then had disclosed that an ad hoc Parliamentary committee had been formed to scrutinize and audit projects done using the CDF but he had not been unaware that it was visiting the City Council the following day.
He only rushed to the scene of their visit at the footbridge after been alerted of their presence and found the ad hoc committee as it was just about to leave. He then followed them to Ndirande Police and other areas they visited in his constituency.
The ad hoc committee, that was set up on October 8 consists of Ralph Jooma (Mangochi Monkey Bay); Liana Chapota (Lilongwe Msozi South); Ulemu Chilapondwa (Ntchisi South); Martha Lunji (Nkhotakota North East); Ashems Songwe (Likoma Islands); Noah Chimpeni (Nkhatabay South East).
Others are Jason Kaneka (Blantyre West); Werani Chilenga (Chitipa South); Esther Jolobala (Machinga East); Susan Dossi (Chikhwawa West); Symon Salambula (Ntcheu West); Victor Musowa (Mulanje Bale) and Susuwele Banda (Zomba Lisanjala).
The committee has visited several Councils between December 1-4 and before going to the Blantyre sites, the Committee were appraised with the role of the City Council and challenges being faced on CDF management.
The presentation said the Council CEO is held accountable for the CDF compliance with both the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the PPA.
The MP is not technically/legally held accountable for the use of public funds and no MP is allowed to make unilateral decision by singlehandedly choosing where to procure, contrary to the laid down procurement procedures in the CDF Guidelines.
Challenges faced under investment menu (Section 3): criteria for selection of projects, is the need to include on-going projects not completed in the previous year.
“In most cases, there is resistance from new MPs in continuing on-going project initiated by previous MPs and not completed in the previous year,” the Council reported.
And under disallowed expenditure (Section 4) bursaries is listed as one of items, but Parliament approved bursaries last year and there are no guidelines dictating how they should be used such as identification of beneficiaries and what level of education.
Under project identification (Section 5), the guidelines require that MPs should, at least, once per year hold a meeting with chiefs, Councilors and ADCs/Urban Development Committees within the constituency.
The meetings are to identify and prioritize projects which meet the immediate socioeconomic needs of the people in the constituency which can be funded under CDF but there is no funding allocation for such activity.
On funding (Section 7), the Council management said it is stated that funds flow shall proceed on quarterly trenches but the Ministry of Finance, through the NLGFC, shall when necessary, advise on improved cash flow or otherwise.
“In most cases, this results in funds being transferred when there are few months to the end of financial year and affects project implementation.
On recommendation, Council management said in most cases, the project implementation framework is rural based and does not apply much in an urban setting and thus the need to customize the framework to fit an urban set up.
To ensure efficiency, the implementation period for the identified projects should not exceed 3 years and that funds flows to be completed in six months for efficient implementation of projects.
For admeasurement contracts, management suggests a 15% variation should be allowed for infrastructural project as the final project cost is based on the measured works.
The role of the Council as outlined under Section 10 include ensuring that all new infrastructural projects are appraised so that they adhere to acceptable government and sectorial standards.
To monitor project implementation and provide technical advice on regular intervals in collaboration with ADC and drawing up projects monitoring programme in collaboration with the MP — which shall ensure that each project is visited at least twice during its implementation period.
Compiling reports of monitoring visits, highlighting key observations made, advice provided and any corrective action taken and proving them to the MP.
And among others, being responsible for financial accountability, procurement, proper record keeping, management, disbursement and reporting of the Fund in accordance to the legal provisions governing the management of public funds.
Founded in 1876 by Scottish missionaries covering an area of 250 square kilometres, Blantyre City Council Vision is “a City of choice in the SADC Region with a conducive environment where people shall take ownership, live, do business and prosper”.
Its Mission is “to provide environmentally friendly, high quality, efficient and effective demand driven municipal services in partnership with the individual and corporate residents to attain better quality lives for all residents in the City”.
Services it offers included solid and liquid waste management; pollution control; infrastructure development and management; fire and rescue services; estates management; curative and preventive health.
Others are social welfare, early childhood and community development; basic education, youth and sports development; environmental protection and management; commerce, trade and industry services as well as leisure, recreation and culture.