Irate residents of Zolozolo East ward in Mzuzu have threatened to oust their councilor Emanuel Khunga. They are accusing him of failure to deliver on his campaign promises, misappropriation of funds as well as a growing dictatorial behavior.
They say they will consider moving the court to grant them an injunction to stop the councilor from discharging his duties.
Khunga, fired the Ward’s Senior Block Leader, Richard Chinoko Nguluwe and the Ward Development Chairperson Morton Chiweta, and this infuriated the community to bay for his blood.
During a recent Transparency and Accountability meeting organized by the Story Workshop in the area, the two fired leaders strongly censured the Councilor saying he had failed to deliver what he promised the people and in retaliation, he relieved the two from their positions.
The Story Workshop’s Deepening Democracy 3 Project is geared at empowering communities to demand transparency and accountability from elected officials.
“For instance, there is no worthy appreciating development project implemented in the ward by the Councilor with funding from the Council.
Apart from that, Khunga usually makes decisions without consulting the ward development committee and other stakeholders,” said the community during the Story Workshop meeting.
This irked the Councilor when he heard it on the radio to the extent that he summoned the Senior Block Leader, and Ward Development Chair.
According to Senior Block leader Nguluwe, Khunga also challenged that people from 10 block leaders within his area who are against him will not participate in the MASAF IV Public Works Program or see any development in their areas.
This provoked the community members who summoned the Councilor to a public meeting held at Zolozolo Primary school. They wanted the Councilor to explain to them of any legal provision that empowers him to fire leaders elected by communities or dictate on beneficiaries of government poverty alleviation programmes such as the public works program.
However, the Councilor didn’t show up.
Taking their turn, residents vented their anger on the alleged incompetence of their Councilor.
“To be honest, there is nothing he has achieved since he was elected. We have so many bridges which are impassable, we have no proper market and roads infrastructure but when we ask him he says we have no powers to question him,” said one of the members at the meeting, Joseph Hara.
He revealed that Khunga deducted money ranging from K500- K1000 from each and every member from the ward who participated in the Public Works Program, claiming he would use the money to construct an ADMARC selling point made from timber plunks at Mganthira around Lunyangwa Research Station.
“We are still blind whether there is such provision that a councilor can deduct money from public works program beneficiaries and use it for such projects which has a funding component in the LDF and CDF,” questioned Hara.
On his part, Chairperson for the ward Development Committee, Chiweta said the councilor personally diverted K650 000 intended for developments projects in the ward to Mchenga Utuwa ward where it was used for renovation of Kaviwale primary School blocks.
“He also told us that he also borrowed more than K300 000 to the council’s health department for fueling its garbage collecting vehicles,” he said.
The members also alleged that he abused funds for construction of a foot bridge around Juma Maize mill after Zolozolo clinic market where he reported to have spent K8 million for a bridge which is in very poor condition.
The members who have agreed to get a court injunction to restrain the councilor from discharging his duties until the irregularities are sorted out suspect that Khunga got back the money he borrowed the city council for buying fuel and renovation of the school block, and used the money collected from the public works program for personal use.
However, efforts to talk to Khunga proved futile.
Minister of Local Development and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa has on several occasions warned councilors and local leaders that government would not leave them go scot-free if found involved in corrupt practices involving LDF related projects including the public works program.