The National Initaitive for Civic Education (Nice) Trust has expressed concern over the tendency by some members of Parliament (MPs) and councillors to delegate cronies to represent them at development meetings.
Nice Trust says this infringes upon people’s right to accountable leadership.
Nice Trust district civic education officer for Chikwawa, Joseph Chamambala, observed that it is becoming a trend among MPs and councillors to shun development meetings on the pretext that they are attending to other issues “when they are simply resisting the inquisitive audience”.
Chamambala made the remarks at Changoima Full Primary School on Thursdayduring a citizen action forum his organisation held in conjunction with Water Aid.
With funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), Nice Trust and Water Aid are jointly implementing a project in traditional authorities (T/As) Chapananga and Makhuwira.
The project, dubbed Citizen Action Initiative, aims to empower citizens so that they are able to demand water and sanitation services from duty-bearers, including elected leaders.
But Chamambala noted that MPs and councillors have persistently given flimsy reasons to shun meetings called to discuss water and sanitation challenges the two areas are facing.
He emphasised: “Their [MPs and councillors] mere representation at development meetings does not help in anyway because it denies people a chance to seek answers from someone they voted for on matters that concern them. This practice is against the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability, and; therefore, must be discouraged at all levels.”
Water Aid programme officer Natasha Mwenda expressed surprise that MPs and councillors are failing to utilise meetings called by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and development committees despite promising during campaign that they would constantly engage with people on development matters.
Mwenda said: “Of course, we do understand that sector financing to water and sanitation has been a big challenge this financial year. But still they need to present themselves to people and explain if there are other avenues. Their absence is, therefore, recipe for loss of hope.”