[By Ben Mbangu in Monze]
RESIDENTS in Monze district have complained of being fatigued with rampant corruption in public offices and political rhetoric.
Speaking at a community meeting for selection of projects people wanted the council to implement in its 2020 developmental plan held at Chilala Primary School in Monze Central Constituency, Halooba Mukwempa, who is Malende Settlement Scheme chairman, said Zambian politicians were just good at offering lip service.
The meeting was organised by the Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) and sponsored by GIZ.
“Citizens are fatigued with rampant corruption in public offices and mere developmental political lies. People now want action to be taken for them to see development,” he said. “When time for votes comes we give them but when we ask for development they don’t fulfil it. We demand that these politicians start taking us seriously as citizens.”
Mukwempa said people could no longer take it anymore.
“We can no longer continue allowing politicians to tell us lies,” said Mukwempa.
Another participant, Brian Mulize, demanded citizens to be given bills of quantity on projects done under the Constituency Development Fund in rural areas to enable them conduct effective accountability.
“Citizens especially in rural areas are failing to conduct proper accountability due to lack of knowledge about details of the contracts. We just see people coming to work on bridges and roads in our areas and how do you expect us to monitor them when we don’t know the bill of quantity?” asked Mulize. “How do you expect a villager to hold these contractors accountable when they have no knowledge about the contract? We don’t want thieves in the name of contractors anymore. If possible let the council start signing MoUs with traditional leadership in monitoring projects.”
Godfrey Mutinta complained that lack of knowledge about technical knowhow affected citizens’ ability to conduct checks and balances.
“Effective development cannot take place when majority citizens are ignorant about technical works going on in their vicinity and that’s why we have a lot of shoddy works in all projects done in rural areas,” said Mutinta. “We can only hold leaders accountable when we are fully informed. We thank AVAP and GIZ for coming up with the initiative of Local Participation in Governance (LoPaGo) programme because it is opening our eyes.”
But area councilor for Huhwa/Hamapande ward Bright Chaava said it was nepotism that characterised the awarding of contracts under the CDF projects by council officials that affected service delivery in rural areas.
“These council employees charged with the responsibility of awarding contracts for CDF projects are giving their relatives and friends contracts so that in the end they share the money. This is why a lot of resources are being lost yet no good job is being done especially when it comes to roads and bridges,” he said.
Chaava said he shared the anguish that citizens were going through regarding lack of development in their ward.
“The CDF projects such as roads and bridges that were done in my ward are not worth the amount allocated to them and this is why you citizens are complaining that, us, your leaders are not doing anything,” he said. “But the issue is that councillors are not part of the committee that selects contractors. No wonder these council officials are able to connive with these so-called contractors they select to steal your funds. Councillors alone cannot manage to be watchdogs but require the public as well. We are losing huge sums of money out of CDF projects because the costs are inflated yet what is on the ground is not pleasing.”
Chaava said councillors were hoping in the 2020 developmental plan, the council would consider local contractors to work on feeder roads and bridge repairs.
“Let the council give contracts to people that are credible and work perfectly. CDF is not known in rural areas because the actual value of the money does not reflect in the type of work done,” said Chaava.
Monze district AVAP coordinator Kebby Salisimu said a good road network was a prerequisite for development.
He said citizens must play their role of conducting checks and balances on projects undertaken in their wards.
“As citizens don’t just fold your arms when it is your resources at play. You must know that public resources are yours which you pay through taxes,” Salisimu said.
He said councillors had powers to prevent shoddy works if citizens worked as watchdogs of their own development.
“There is need for for you to unite and speak with one voice, just like you fought colonialism. The voice of the people is powerful when it is united therefore, there is no need to fear contractors who are not doing good works. Report them to the council secretary and your councillors,” advised Salisimu.