By: Lloyd M’bwana
The Lilongwe City Council (LCC) is reportedly running its fiscal activities without auditing for the past five years which according to observers the trend has contributed to the gross financial mismanagements, the Maravi Post has learnt.
The development comes amid the general public’s dissatisfaction on how LCC is unable to tick with developmental projects despite being the hub of the country’s capital city with substandard infrastructures including road networks.
Sources privy the matter to the Maravi Post this week after attending the 6th Ordinary council meeting revealed that since 2010 the council has never been audited despite recommendation from Local Government Finance Committee which has led to mismanagement of public funds by secretariat officers.
Due to absence of fiscal auditing for the past five years, sources reveals that the council has over 20 untraceable banks accounts from different financial institutions where overdraft loans have been incurred without proper documentation from the council of councilors.
Despite the full council meeting’ (comprised of Ward Councilors and Members of Parliament) resolutions and recommendations for the council secretariat to produce bank statements on how the assembly has been using its finances for the past five years, the office’s directors resort to live in hibernation.
Although the council continues with taxes collection in all bases including houses, shops, institutions offices, markets and budget allocation from Local Government Finance Committee , the secretariat has never declared how much is in its coffers but what noticed on the ground is buck of uncollected garbage, poor road networks, unable to pay workers in good time, malfunction of city lights among others.
For instance, in September 2015 government gave all four city councils (Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, Mzuzu) MK1.8 billion for road projects but nothing on the ground has been done despites the full council indorsing the funds usage.
The Maravi Post caught up with David Bisnowalty, Lilongwe City Centre Legislator who is also a member of the council’s health committee on the council’s performance for the past year in office, saying the secretariat’s conduct live a lot to be desired as most resolutions made aren’t acted upon.
Bisnowalty expressed sadness on the secretariat failure to execute projects and programs indorsed by the council despite funds available which according to him, there was a need to institute a thorough investigation for the entire secretariat as to establish reasons resolutions have been aborted.
“It’s very disheartening to learn that since April, till this December, 2015, there has not been a full council ordinary meeting to follow up city projects. What impact will be with such dormancy? Despite that no any single resolution has been taken on board by the secretariat for activities’ implementation. What we hear is that the council doesn’t have money. The question is where the is the money going despite tax collection on progress?
“It’s surprising however to learn that secretariat’s directors are busy on global trotting instead of being in the office while getting an additional allowance (US$50) a day despite the ban on the same.
This is happening at the expense of the council’s failure to pay councilors seating allowances and workers for months, unable to collect garbage in city’s locations.
“The secretariat has let us down. Therefore, a thorough investigation must be instituted for the entire secretariat as to why is failing to carry on the council resolutions such that whoever is responsible must be suspended or even fired. In additional to that, a full forensic audit must be carried to establish funds usage because a big organization like LCC can’t run its financial activities without audited for the past five years”, fumed Bisnowalty.
Echoing on the same Councilor Desmond Bikoko, LCC Human Resources Chairperson questioned the legibility of the council leadership arguing that the Mayor’s office has not helped matters on how the council could run its programs and activities.
“We have been led by a sleepy Mayor which the secretariat has taken advantage on by sabotaging the full council resolutions to transform the city as expected by residents. Our friends in Blantyre are doing their best with little resources to change the shape of the city.
“Lilongwe, being the country’s capital city was supposed to be on top with infrastructure development but the situation is different. We want a formidable council which will be translating resolutions into actions. If the secretariat don’t want to work with us must resign to pay away for capable people who can share the vision and will of Lilongwe city residents”, challenges Bikoko.
In reacting to the concerns, Moza Zeleza, Lilongwe City Council’s Chief Executive Director who is a former Reserve Bank of Malawi employee assured the entire council of his total commitment in pushing execution of resolutions with an appeal for calmness as he was getting used to the council’s business.
“The concerns raised by council are valid and will work on it as soon as possible. Be mindful that I’m a new CEO (just few weeks in office), therefore, I need also time to be briefed by the secretariat on what has been happening”, assures Zeleza whose predecessor was Richard Hara.
Lilongwe City Council has 27 councilors; 13 for Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has 12, one for United Democratic Front (UDF) and one is Independent whose Mayor is Councilor Willie Chapondera (DPP) deputized by Councilor Akwame Bandawe (Independent) with four Members of Parliament namely Masi (DPP), Bentrey Namasasu (DPP), David Bisnowalty (Independent) and Rhino Chiphiko (MCP).