The Council’s only elected female Councilor, Judith Chiume of Msongwe Ward explained in an interview on Tuesday that the 110 disabled artisans have been learning handcrafts and selling their products from the Mayor’s House under Mzuzu Disability Organization, a community-based Initiative which was spearheaded by their Councilor Joyce Sichali , who represents the interests of the disabled in the Council.
According to Chiume, a verbal agreement with the Mzuzu City Council allowed the Mzuzu Disability Organization to temporarily operate from the Mayor’s House until the Initiative finalized the process of securing a disability-friendly office space.
In November, 2017, the Initiative with guidance of the Mzuzu City’s Member of Parliament Leonard Njikho secured training in carpet-making and knitting from TEVETA for 110 disabled people drawn from more than 15 wards in commencing the Organization’s operations from the Mayor’s House.
However, Chime narrated that a year after several unsuccessful applications for the office space to the Ministry of Lands and the Mzuzu City Council , the councilors have received the shock of their lives in the letter from the Council ordering the CBO to vacate from the office by December 31, 2018.
“In the first place, when Mzuzu Disability Organization moved into the building, we understood the move was temporary, so we went to the Ministry of Lands and applied for land to put up offices which has not come through and off late the Council itself had land at area 6, we quickly went there to apply for land.”
“Before all this could come through, we received a letter from the City Council that we should vacate the premises, where are we going to put these people? It’s a community Project for Mzuzu Disability Organization, it’s not a personal thing, it doesn’t belong to anyone,” Chiume said.
Mzuzu City Council Public Relations Officer MacDonald Gondwe confirmed that the Council had issued the letter but declined to give further comments. The letter dated November 27 which is signed by Mzuzu City Council’s Director for Administration Christopher Phiri reads in part:
“We write to remind you that we gave you a period up to 31st December 2017 within which you were expected to vacate the building but you defiled the Council’s orders. You are now given a last chance to vacate the Mayoral House by 31st December 2018.”
Meanwhile, the Msongwe Ward Councilor has also decried the harsh treatment of the female councilors by some officials from the Council’s Administration and the discriminatory language used by one male Councilor during an earlier WhatsApp discussion among the Councilors.