MCHINJI (Sarah Munthali, Mana) —Some residents of Mchinji on Monday took councilors to task accusing them of doing nothing to prove their usefulness to the people who elected them in last year’s local government polls.

The people made the accusations at a public debate organised by National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust aimed at giving people in the district an opportunity to voice out their views on how their representatives have fared since they were elected.

Most of the people who gave their views during the debate which was also aired on the Mchinji community radio station, Mudziwathu, expressed concern that since their election last year, most councillors have not visited their wards to get people’s views and needs.

Hellen Nhlane Makukula representing Women Hope for Change queried the usefulness of councillors saying all they [the councillors] do is attend council meetings but have nothing to show on the ground.

“Councillors were elected to represent people from the grassroots and ensure that people have their needs [met] and development in their areas, but this is not the case,” she alleged.

However some people who attended the debate felt there was need for people to give time and chance to councillors to prove themselves to their subjects.

“How can a councillor prove his usefulness when he is overshadowed by his Member of Parliament?” asked Austin Nyirenda, a Mchinji resident.

Nyirenda also said the one year term for chairman of council proved too short for the councillor to discharge his duties.

A councillor for Mkoma Ward Nathan Ndhlamini blamed organisations working in the districts and the council secretariat for sidelining them when identifying projects to be carried out in their wards.

“Most organisations do not contact us when initiating programmes in our wards as such people do not see our usefulness. We appeal to these organisations and the council secretariat to actively involve us,” he explained.

In his response  Mchinji District Commissioner Richard Hara said although it is not always true that councillors are left out, the absence of councillors for the past years made it difficult for the council to involve them in each and every programme.

“The long absence of councilors meant we were handling their job at the secretariat and our officials are slowly adapting to the change and would involve them in all programmes the council is undertaking,” said Hara.

District Civic Education Officer for NICE Trust in Mchinji Reuben Nyirenda people in elected positions such as councillors and Members of Parliament should strive to organise meetings with their constituents to consult on their (people’s) needs.

“MP’s and councillors should always remember the people who put them into power. It is sad that most of the leaders don’t conduct meetings in their areas to ask the needs and challenges of the people,” he said.