Communities demand MAREP compensations from Mwanza District Council

Mwanza, : Communities from Kasuza and surrounding villages in Senior Chief Nthache in Mwanza stormed the district council’s premises demanding payment of outstanding compensations of crops and property destroyed by Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) in 2014 under Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP).

In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), one of the affected people, Brazilio Elias from Faiti Village said the communities were tired of excuses from the council for not paying them in time while their counterparts already received the money in 2016, hence demanding to meet District Commissioner (DC) for Mwanza, Humphrey Gondwe.

The group enquired from MAREP recently who assured us that our compensation was already deposited into the council’s account early this year. To us, this indicates that the money is being withheld within the council, said Elias.

When we arrived at the council to meet the DC this morning, we were told that only four representatives could be allowed to meet him, something which we refused because we wanted him to personally give us assurance on when we will receive the money, he said.

Elias claimed that the 27 affected households were expecting to receive a total of K3.9 million which they would use to pay for school fees for their wards, buy food and other basic necessities.

He said some of the things destroyed during the electrification work in the area included fruit trees, crop fields, houses and business structures.

Meanwhile, Mwanza Senior Paralegal Officer for Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance, Baxten Kudziwe has faulted the council for delaying the disbursement of money to those affected by the programme.

It is high time that officials at Mwanza District Council improved the way they handle issues from communities in the district, Kudziwe said, observing that it was not the first time for such an incident to happen at the council.

The duty bearers should not wait for communities to converge at council premises for them to act on an issue because people can easily lose trust in the authorities, Kudziwe added.

He further said delays in service delivery have potential to violate people’s rights.

DC for Mwanza, Humphrey Gondwe admitted that the council owes communities K3.9 million from MAREP meant for compensation.

About K3.3 million was deposited into the council’s account in January this year (2019) for compensation from MAREP. Then the balance will be topped up soon so that the communities can be all be paid at once, Gondwe said.

However, Gondwe said there was some misunderstanding on reconciliation of figures between the council and MAREP which caused the problem, saying the challenge has since been addressed.

The DC therefore, assured the concerned households that the council would announce the exact date when the compensation would be administered, pointing out that some of the people received their money in 2016.

Source: MANA Online