Blantyre — National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) in conjunction with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has embarked on a massive sensitization campaign on budget tracking in Blantyre.
The aim of the three months campaign is to empower communities to have courage to ask those in authority how money meant for developmental projects in their areas has been spent and also track progress of every project being implemented.
In an interview, Assistant District Nice Officer for Blantyre Rural, Anthony Mkandawire, said many Malawians are failing to track public expenditure in their communities because they are not empowered and not aware that it is their right to ask how much money is involved and spent on projects.
Mkandawire observed that transparency and accountability are vital for the successful development of any country, citing the budget tracking campaign as one of the many solutions to address misuse of public resources.
"We noted that there was a huge gap between the community and people in authority, especially in the implementation of projects as well as on public expenditure. Many did not know how much power they had to enquire about developmental projects taking place in their communities," said Mkandawire.
He added that the campaign will also equip villagers with knowledge and at the same time empower them to track resources that come in their communities.
He said once people are aware of what is happening with the resources channeled to their areas, they are also encouraged to participate in development activities and work hard to achieve a common goal.
Apart from budget tracking, the sensitization campaign also involves educating people on the dangers of corruption.
Memory Kadongola Pindani, Corruption Prevention Officer for ACB said the bureau has been receiving a lot of corruption complaints but what lacked in these grievances was proof since only partial information was provided to her office.
"There is a lot happening in communities but what we see is that many people don't know how to report corruption and also what qualifies corruption. Our message is clear, we are urging communities to start reporting corruption cases and also bring full evidence to the corruption busting body," Pindani said.
On their part, Group Village headmen (GVH) Mtema and Mkumba of Senior chiefs Kapeni and Lundu respectively, commended NICE and ACB for the campaign which they said would enlighten many community members to start and demand answers from those in authority on various issues.
Budget Tracking is a project to be implemented by NICE but is currently being piloted in five districts in the country including Blantyre.