The Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice (CCJP) in Mzuzu has blamed citizens in the country for being too passive in holding duty bearers accountable.
According to the Project Officer for the CCJP in the district, Mathias Katandika this passiveness is has a direct bearing on abuse of development resources in local councils.
The Malawi Government adopted the Decentralization policy in 1998 to strengthen citizen participation and voices in the governance and development processes.
To regularize decentralization, the government of Malawi developed a Local Government Act of 1998.
Adoption of decentralization created lots of development expectations from the citizens especially with the re-introduction of ward councillors in local councils in 2014.
However, reports of abuse of funds in district councils continue making headlines, with the District Development Fund (DDF) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) among the abused funds.
And Katandika said much as local government has potential to enhance development, its full implementation has not seen the light of the day as in most cases citizens do not take interest in tracking funds meant for development.
“Ward Councilors are now over four years old in the Local councils, can we soberly say they have delivered and satisfy people’s expectations? If no, who is to blame for this status quo? Obviously it is the citizens as they are too passive, they don’t speak out when duty bearers are abusing resources,” Katandika said.
In an effort to bridge this existing gap, CCJP has since embarked on a one year project called Strengthened citizen participation for accountability of development resources and results in Mzimba district to be implemented in areas of T/A M’mbelwa and Mzukuzuku.
The project aims at influencing citizens and CSOs action and voice for M’mbelwa District Council to become more inclusive, transparent and accountable on the utilization of development resources.
“We would like to build capacity of the citizenry, VDCs, ADCs, ward councillors, the full council and relevant council sub-committees on their roles and responsibilities and expenditure tracking for development resources,” Katandika said.
In addition, Katandika said; “We will also try to increase access to information on development budgets, development plans and guidelines for local development resources.”
“And finally we will increase participatory public expenditure tracking initiatives for development resources and results at district and community levels by citizens, CSOs and council sub- committees,” he added.
All these according to Katandika will be done so that citizens start demanding accountability in the management of development resources and projects through collaborative efforts.
That aside, he said they want to see citizens engaging in public expenditure tracking including monitoring adherence to procedure and systems for allocation and management of development resources.