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Thursday, 26 March 2020 08:26

Holy Spirit hovers over Chikwawa full council meet

Written by  Steve Chirombo

Chikwawa, March 26, Mana: Participants to the Tuesday’s Full Council meeting in Chikwawa were converted into preaching honesty and truthfulness towards usage of Community Development Fund (CDF) bursary fund.

 The development came about when Member of Parliament (MP) for Chikwawa West, Susan Dossi confessed that the bursary fund tapped from CDF could be channeled to other developmental projects at will and not strictly for bursary.

 She objected a point from Chikwawa District Council Finance Committee Chairperson, Khofati Malunga who was presenting a budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

 Malunga said of the approved funds, some K3 million from CDF was earmarked towards bursary funds which should see vulnerable children being assisted with fees and other needs so that no child was left behind as far as school attendance is concerned.

 However, Dossi rose in a point order, saying the K3 million was not limited to bursary funds alone but an MP as a custodian of the funds has all powers to decide what to do with the money.

 She said the K3 million fund from the CDF which was meant towards bursary fund could do other things apart from assisting needy students.

 “The fund was proposed by MPs having observed that most school going children were lacking other needs especially school fees. We can as well decide what to do with the money in that particular year whether we want it to go to bursary funds or any other development,”

 “If you look at the guidelines, they say an MP may use such an amount and not must...,” Dossi added.

 Her remarks did not go down well with other Members of the Council with Malunga asking members in the house to fear God and be honest in their statements.

 In his contribution, Chief Ngowe asked the house to make proper direction towards the bursary funds, saying: “I partially agree with Hon. Dossi but let us have a picture of how our children in our respective areas are struggling to access fees and other needs to pursue their studies.”

 “School fees is a big challenge in the communities and we need to tread carefully on this matter. Let’s be honest; otherwise our children are desperate,” he pointed out.

 Chikwawa District Council Vice Chairperson, Manick Gannet, who chaired the meeting, asked the District Commissioner (DC) to make an honest reaction to the matter.

 However, DC for Chikwawa, Ali Phiri excused himself and asked the Council’s Chief Accountant to comment on the matter, instead.

 Chikwawa District Council Chief Accountant, Steve Kanyerere said the K3 million tapped from the CDF was meant to help provide school fees and other academic requirements for needy children, referring to the guidelines on code 5603.

 His response brought a sigh of relief to most participants to the meeting such as chiefs, councilors and other secretariat members.

 Commenting on the development, Councillor for Makhuwira North, Alex Mulonya expressed worry that some MPs were reluctant to release the funds from CDF meant for bursary.

 “It is sad that we still have some MPs who are not heeding to the call. The funds are supposed to go towards assisting children who are finding it difficult to continue with their education due to fees and other needs. It is high time such people made commitment to important matters like education,” he said.

 According to a circular signed by Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Charles Kalemba which indicated that as a result of many requests and noticing that many capable and deserving students have failed to complete their studies due to failure to pay schools fees in many localities:

 “The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ben Phiri has directed a small amendment on allowed project menu to include creation of bursary fund at a constituency level of amount not exceeding K3 million per year.

 “The bursary scheme shall follow the already existing Government Bursary Guidelines which are available at the DC’s/CEO’s office,” the circular read in part.

 Chikwawa District Council has approved a K2 billion budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

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