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Things could never be better for Timothy Sindikizani nowadays. Chairman of Farmers Union in Traditional Kapondo’s area in Mchinji he is certain to make big money this year as demand for agricultural commodities is rising with each passing day. But much of his delight is not because of the money he is making or he will make. It is what he does to the community.

Timothy chairs HRCC’s District Accountability Committee in T/A Kapondo where HRCC is implementing the Mwananchi programme. He is also a member of the Area Development Committee (ADC) where he takes part in many development meetings that involve the community.

Being a Farmers Union chairperson and ADC member has given Timothy a platform to engage chiefs with ease. However, ever since he took interest to join Liu Lathu, a lot of things changed for Timothy and his surroundings.

He has learnt about good governance and decentralization. Now he understands how local projects have to be initiated and implemented. This knowledge opened his eyes to realize that many things in the community are out of the line.

“HRCC has opened our eyes on what development is? How we should take part and the nitty gritties of the development processes,” says Timothy.

From then on his committee embarked on meetings of extending this knowledge to the masses. He therefore used the ADC meetings as well as Farmers Union forums to spread the importance of his newly acquired knowledge.
He explains that as of now his committee makes a follow up on all projects which have stalled. Luckily most of them have been completed.

“Previously, school projects could just end mid-way of construction, and we were just told that the money was not enough and projects ended there.

“But now district council officials and members of parliament have to produce evidence on how money is spent in order to account to the people,” Sindikizani explains,” says Timothy.
He points out at Kalulu primary school and a bridge on Lusa river as some projects which came to completion after the communities taking authorities to task.

Currently there is one project which the committee is fighting for. A youth centre project which is lying idle just next to Traditional Authority Kapondo headquarters. The Liu Lathu inspired committee is taking district council officials to task for not properly accounting for the project’s funds. The building physical structure has well been roofed but there is no money for completion, and the community says receipts provided by the council do not tally with prices in shops.

Timothy and his committee efforts at first met with resistance as he was perceived not worthy to question authorities starting with that of chiefs and then district council members as they are perceived as top dogs in the community.
He however says persistence paid and a lot of people became more interested after realizing that elected officials were reaping them off as a result of their ignorance.

Other influential people including chiefs and politicians soon took the line thinking of Timothy.
One of them is Foloma Mwale, a man who has graced Malawi politics as far back as independence in 1964. Having enjoyed top party positions during 30 years of one party rule, he remains an authority that many people around Mponda community and some parts of Mchinji district look up to when it comes to politics and development talk.

However the veteran politician and current member of Area Development Committee (ADC) in Traditional Authority Mponda’s area now testifies that all these years he has been in the dark to notice how development projects are carried out.
The confessions of the old man in his seventies came to light after appreciating value of the knowledge acquired through Liu Lathu project. He is not the only one showing his appreciation, as other folks, old and middle aged men and women talk of the same.

“I now know that these parliamentarians flash our tax money, lying in our faces that they have brought development. Yet that is our money and we are the ones to be in charge of the projects which we should decide for ourselves,” explains a concerned looking Foloma.
Timothy’s delight is that people are not just aware of realities of their power in taking part in development projects but they also understand their basic human rights.

Even public officers working in other sectors of the community agree that Liulathu project is changing people’s mindset as the community is now making strides to claim their rights once infringed upon.

“At the hospital we have women coming in the open after being raped, unlike in the past when they used to hide it especially when a relation commits such a crime,” explains Patrick Kadzanja, Clinical Officer at Chipumi health Centre.
“Government officials are now careful when they see us. He says now it is even possible to recover cement, doors and glasses after completion of projects unlike previously when all building materials would go without a trace” says Timothy.

For now what Timothy and his committee are looking for is to reach many hard to reach distant places as they do not have reliable means of transport since Traditional Authority Kapondo’s area is very vast.
Timothy and his colleagues further says having additional training opportunities to make it easy in convincing their colleagues will do no harm despite great changes already registered in areas they were operating on.