A visit to Mtambanyama Trading Centre to appreciate one of the projects that Thyolo District Council is implementing with Governance to Enable Service Delivery (GSED) funds left the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) board in awe on Tuesday.
The project, which is at 95 percent completion, entails construction of two market sheds, kiosks and VIP pit latrines, all with a budget of MK102 million from the GSED purse.
NLGFC board chair, Commissioner Richard Chapweteka, who led the visiting team, could not hide his excitement and he described the project as “cost effective” and “one of the best”.
“I can say it without fear of contradiction that this market structure that we’ve seen here is one of the best, and cost-effective structures we’ve visited elsewhere in the country under GSED, or other funds,” exclaimed the NLGFC board chair.
He added: “The quality of the works is just great and, truth be told, the budget of MK102 million is justifiable. We need to give credit where it is due: the council has done a commendable job despite some existing challenges.”
Thyolo District Commissioner (DC), Rosemary Nawasha, expressed her gratitude to the NLGFC board’s recognition of the council’s efforts in putting the GSED funds to good use.
Nawasha said her council will continue to strive for best results in all the 10 projects which are being implemented under the World Bank-funded GSED program.
“I’m extremely happy, and proud of the NLGFC board chair’s remarks because, a few weeks ago, the media painted a picture as if we are doing completely nothing as Thyolo District Council,” said the DC, and she added: “But for the board chair to come here and be proud of what we are doing, I’m very happy, extremely happy.”
Nawasha said her administration is doing all it can to put the operations of the council in order after previously reported shortcomings put the council in disrepute.
According to the DC, the drawbacks included the abandonment of a project by one of the contractors after getting a 30 percent down payment.
“One of our contractors left the site without any notice: He had not done anything on the site except clearing the land and doing the foundations,” explained the DC. “So we kept on searching for him for 3 months until we terminated the contract.”
Nawasha said the contractor’s conduct had tainted the council’s reputation, but she said a new contractor has been identified and the project, which entails construction of Mikate health post at Mikate Village in the area of Traditional Authority Kapichi, is now at foundation level.
The Council’s chairperson, Councillor George Matiya, also expressed his happiness with the NLGFC’s congratulatory remarks saying as council, they are “energized”.
“I’m very happy with the remarks but I owe it to the current management: I am extremely happy with this new management comprising the District Commissioner, Director of Planning and Development, and Director of Public Works: They’re coordinating well, they are sharing notes, and they are speaking same language – which was not the case with the previous similar management,” the council chair said.
He added that the projects faced challenges and that it took the efforts of the new management of the district council for the projects to finally take off.
The NLGFC board’s visit to the council was to ‘investigate’ allegations of abuse of public funds in the implementation of the GSED projects as reported in the social media recently.
During the interface with the council, the Board established a number of discrepancies and faulted the council’s previous management in the implementation of the GSED projects.
The NLGFC Board is yet to come to consensus on how to deal with the concerned officers for what Commissioner Chapweteka described as “lack of professionalism, impunity and arrogance”.
This 2023/24 Financial Year, Thyolo district Council has received a total of MK775,954,825 for the implementation of GSED projects, up from MK719,905,170 that the council got for the 2022/23 Financial Year.