DOWA-(MaraviPost)-The debate of seeking views from various stakeholders on need that Members of Parliament (MPs) should not have voting powers at council levels is attracting support with the endorsement of some legislators.
They argue that councilors being the epicenter of local council are therefore mandated to take full charge of operation with solely voting powers.
Therefore, what is needed according MPs is to empower ward councilors on managerial financial skills for effective work output.
Even communities are supporting the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2015, that among others seeks to remove voting powers of MPs at district council meetings.
This was testified on Friday, Mponera in Dowa during public debate which the country’s powerful religious grouping, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) hosted in seeking communities views through the European union project-“Improved local governance and community action in Malawi”
With an arousing debate titled, “Why MPs should not have powers at council level and council staff be recruited by the council itself, the program is being technically supported and implemented by Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Catholic Education Commission with funding from European Union (EU) through Trocaire.
Dowa Ngala lawmaker who is also Parliamentary Chairperson on education committee, Dr. Elias Chakwera agreed with those supporting the ideas of removing powers of MPs for voting saying councilors are the prime duty bearers for local government implementation programs.
Lawmaker Chakwera observed that councilors being prime duty bearers at local councils there was no need to compromise their work with MPs voting powers.
“Personally, I support the reforms that councilors be solely have voting powers at council meeting but MPs must be present all the time as ex-official to provide insights of the developmental agendas.
“Ward councilors must therefore empowered with skills and raise qualification bars for effective execution of duties particularly on finances,” says Chakwera.
PAC vice chairperson Osman Karim believes that the implementation of the electoral reforms improve efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities and align the Act with objectives decentralization and devotion of powers.
Karim added that the enacted LGA will create a supportive environment for a more meaningful and effective political engagement of women, men and youth.
He however bemoaned Dowa district for having parallel structures in addition to the structures formed by Local government ministry to manage Community Development Funds (CDF) saying the move has brought conflicts between councilors and MPs.
“To this regard, there is no time limit to stop us pushing for all electoral reforms in Malawi for they do not belong to a specific period.
“Its high time we had mature and patriotic leaders in positions of power and influence in our society for Malawi’s development. Lets put Malawi first before our individual interests,” urges Karim.
Through the Local Government Law Reforms, PAC is championing the improvement of efficiency and effectiveness of local governing authorities, and align local governance to the 1998 Decentralization Policy.
There are two out of 17 proposed amendments in the 2010 Local Government Act (LGA), including appointment of District Commissioners (DCs), Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), that are to be be appointed by councils with recommendation of the Local Government Service Commission on a fixed-term contract, instead of the current unfixed-term contract and pensionable terms.