NENO-(MaraviPost)—The youth of Malawi’s southern district of Neno have no kind words for the Minister of Labor, Sports and Manpower Development, Henry Mussa for neglecting the district youth centre.
The youth centre, which is developed on the former Malawi Young Pioneer premises in the isolated district, was launched by the former president Joyce Banda, and since then there is nothing happening concerning the youth of Neno.
A month ago Maravi Post reported the mediocrity currently happening at the centre which has magnificent hostels but up to now no official from the responsible ministry intervened so as to make sure that the structures are put to its intended purpose.
Reacting to the ministry’s silence on the matter, the youth in the district have accused minister Mussa of being sleepy, and selective in implementing youth projects.
“The minister is used to archaic politics whereby areas that have less numbers in terms of population are not remembered when it comes to development. It’s a surprise to us the youth of Neno to see that we have beautiful buildings which could give us some skills to become independent but the government chooses to neglect it.
“It pains when we here the same government talking much about community colleges yet ours is staying idle. Or do they want to empower the youth of Mulanje, Thyolo, Zomba and Blantyre only?” wondered one of the youth in the district.
“Here most of the youth are just loitering as they nothing to do yet the youth centre is just dilapidating. The centre has just now turned into a well of corrupt money for politicians. I am sure DPP officials are benefiting a lot at the expense of the youth of Neno,” said another youth.
Efforts to get comment from Mussa proved futile as he did not respond to a questionnaire sent three weeks ago.
Few weeks ago, Chikonde Ward councilor McPherson Dzimadzi also raised the same concerns in an interview with Maravi Post
“As people of Neno, our concern is that the project which could benefit many youth who are just lingering around is just lying idle. We are very surprised that the centre has all the facilities including hostels befitting a modern community technical college but the responsible ministry seems not to care.
“Government sent the youths for a nine 9-month training program at the Songhai Center in Benin, who were earmarked for assisting in setting up the various training production units and act as trainers at the Centre upon their return. However, three years down the line since their return, they are just languishing at home. The well-constructed hostels at the centre are just dilapidating for nothing,” said Dzimadzi.
He added: “Key positions at the centre are vacant due to a wave of resignations that happened some months ago but the government is not filling the gap. The centre manager, livestock officer and crop production officer resigned.”
Responding to questionnaire sent by Maravi Post, Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Project Coordinator, Edward Zomba said that the magnificent structures are staying idle because the contractor has not handed over them for use.
“You may wish to know that since inception only the old rehabilitated office structure, the poultry house and the pig khola are the only structures that have been in use. The newly built two hostels, kitchen-hall and two semi-detached staff houses have not yet been handed over to us by the contractors and therefore we cannot use them.
“Being a government construction project the department of building is the one still in charge until the project is handed over,” said Zombe.
He added: “As a ministry our records indicate that we do not owe the contractors. We have informed the ministry responsible for inspection, supervision (building department) of the same and we are therefore waiting to hear from them regarding the necessary handover arrangements. Once the hostels are handed over, formal training of youths will start at the centre. The two hostels are expected to accommodate eighty students from across the country.”
He also indicated that while the normal trainings have not yet started, more than thirty five youth from communities sorounding the centre have benefited from the interim trainings and capital inputs.
Maravi Post investigative team also discovered that there is a lot of corrupt activities and mediocrity happening at the centre.
One of the employees told this reporter that the institution is now controlled by a mere copy typist following the resignation of the centre manager.
“What is happening is very pathetic. Just imagine, a mere copy typist is holding a position of centre manager which is supposed to be held by a senior officer with vast experience and knowledge. She [copy typist], intellectually challenged as she is, has just turned the institution as personal property and tax payers money is just being misused.
“The five toner vehicle is just being used for personal purposes like transporting bricks, charcoal and firewood. To show how irresponsible the manager is, she even uses the five toner vehicle to go in town just to get quotations,” said the employee who opted to speak on condition of anonymity.
In 2015, President Peter Mutharika mentioned Neno Youth Centre as one of his achievements within his two years in office, a claim which angered the residents who are fed up with Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) lies.
“Neno Integrated Youth Centre was launched by Joyce Banda and since then we haven’t seen any tangible thing happening to develop the youth of Neno. There is nothing that DPP has done for the centre within its two-year period into government,” said one of the residents.
Neno, located in the southern region, is the only district without tarmac road.