Minister Nankhumwa (L) theft is rampant in local councils

MANGOCHI (Malawi NewsNow)—As corruption is increasingly becoming an acceptable practice in Malawi, the government has expressed worries over rampant stealing of public funds in the country’s local councils.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa expressed the worry in Mangochi on Wednesday when he opened this year’s Local Government Authorities Conference which attracted controlling officers in councils across the country.

Nankhumwa, as quoted in the Daily Times, said latest audits conducted by the government have revealed that there is rampant theft of public funds in almost all local councils, something which the minster said is affecting the implementation of various projects targeting locals.

According to the local paper, the minister further faulted the country’s councilors for not doing enough to ensure that the government’s funds are being used for the intended purposes.

Nankhumwa has since challenged local government authorities and members of the society to contribute ideas which can help find solutions that can be adopted to respond to audit results.

“The audit exercise that was carried out in 2016 for Local Development Fund (LDF), Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and District Development Fund (DDF), respectively, revealed a general outlook that is very worrisome. Procurement of tools under the Public Works Programme was marred by gross irregularities that suggest lack of integrity on the part of public officials. Reports on LDF projects further revealed ghost projects and ghost workers in most local authorities,” Nankhumwa said as quoted in the Daily Times of 9th March, 2017 edition.

He also revealed that the audit reports for the years 2010/11 and 2011/12 were also gloomy as there were more revelations of fraud which need to be addressed if the country is to move forward.

Nankhumwa further faulted the procurement procedures in most councils which he said are marred by a lot of anomalies which have affected the quality of construction projects and resulted in some projects not completing at all.

“Effective Decentralisation largely depends on an effective primary oversight role of councillors. However, in some cases, elected councillors are involved directly in implementation of projects. Some are actually identifying themselves as beneficiaries of social protection projects such as public works. In some cases, councillors are working as contractors in construction projects. Such tendencies have compromised the oversight role of councillors,” he observed.

Malawi Local Government Association President, Wild Ndipo appealed to the government to relinquish its powers on local councils in order to give the councils power to decide how to use the money the councils collect, saying this can improve transparency and accountability in financial management.