By Linda Likomwa, MANA
Chiradzulu District has the potential to boost the tourism industry by marketing rich historic site, Providence Industrial Mission (PIM), high was founded by John Chilembwe — the first Malawian to fight colonial oppression and fight for Malawi’s freedom in 1915.
Chiradzulu District Commissioner, Reinghard Chavula said this when Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Lingson Belekanyama made a familiarization tour of Chiradzulu Council over the weekend, saying PIM has that potential to attract worldwide as well as local tourists.
“Chilembwe was a son of Chiradzulu and government can assist us to develop PIM [into a better national heritage site from which] to learn more about Chilembwe,” she said.
She added that the Council has already started engaging PIM president on ways to improve the Chilembwe historic sites.
Malawi celebrates Chilembe’s legacy by observing a national holiday that was set in his honour every January 15 and his portrait appears on the K2,000 Malawi bank note.
Chiradzulu is also better known through the Catholic Church’s St. Joseph Mission Hospital at Nguludi Campus which also currently houses the Catholic University.
Chavula observed that the district looks underdeveloped because most of its developments are scattered, which makes the Boma to appear unappealing.
She further said young people in the district are not inspired to work in the district because of the status of the Boma and prefer to flock to Blantyre and other areas for employment and better social amenities.
She also noted that most of the employees at the Council and other organisations stay in Blantyre for better life and accommodation as the district fails to provide better housing.
As a result, the DC added that the Council loses a lot of hard working staff members, who prefer to work in other districts creating high vacancy rate that affect good service delivery.
Minister Belekanyama said the Chiradzulu familiarisation tour was meant to appreciate successes and challenges and see how best the ministry can come in to deal with the said challenges.
Belekanyama added that the ministry will discuss ways to deal with the high vacancy rate in councils.
He, however, advised Chiradzulu Council to avoid creating hostile work environment with officers to minimise requests of transfers by officers.
Belekanyama also asked chiefs in the district to tell their subjects the importance of creating an enabling work environment for Council employees to allow them contribute to the district’s development aspirations.
He then assured the Council that it would be included on the US$100 million funds from World Bank to improve the Council’s service delivery.
The Minister commended the Council for its transparency on the implementation of projects under District Development Fund (DDF) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and how the funds are used in the district.
He advised the Council to ensure speedy processing of developmental funds to avoid misunderstandings with Councilors and Members of Parliament, adding that proper communication should be made to members of the council whenever there are challenges in processing the funds.
Belekanyama also said procurement of goods and services should be done by following proper procurement guidelines to avoid public mistrusts that could also lead to loss of council’s credibility.
He also encouraged council members to ensure they conduct service committee meetings before sitting in the full council meetings so that they reduce time on debating on issues which could be discussed by the responsible service committees.
He further said councils should develop by-laws relevant to the district to ensure development projects are responding to people’s needs and aspirations.
DC Chavula said during the 2018/19 financial year all DDFs were used accordingly while 56 projects in the district were implemented using the CDF.
“We received K87 million for DDF and K150 million for CDF, which MPs and Councilors agreed to use to complete some projects,” the DC said, adding that they also received funds which were used to drill and rehabilitate more than 20 boreholes.
Chavula, however, said operation funds they receive from Central Government are not enough to enable them carry out their services.
In some instances, the Council uses locally generated revenue from market fees which she said was a challenge due to the COVID-19 which has affected trade in most markets.
Council chairperson, Councilor Bruno Mwase said service committees do meet every quarter before full council meetings and that the secretariat always shares information on CDF and DDF in a transparent manner.