LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- The former governing People’s Party (PP) on Wednesday indorsed Malawi’s powerful religious grouping, the Public Affairs Committee’ (PAC) proposals of removing the power to vote by Parliamentarians at local council meetings in the Local Government Act (Amendment) bill, 2015.
The Party has also backed PAC’s appeal that the winning President must amass 50% plus one national vote; they argue that the benchmark gives the leader total legitimacy to rule.
Through the local government law reforms, PAC is championing the improvement of efficiency, and effectiveness of local authorities, which will be aligned to the 1998 Decentralization Policy.
There are two out of 17 proposed amendment in the 2010 Local Government Act (LGA), including appointment of District Commissioners (DCs), Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to be appointed by councils with recommendation of Local Government Service Commission on a fixed term contract, instead of the current unfixed term contract and pensionable terms.
The voting powers Members of Parliament (MPs) have in local councils is seen as overriding powers and they must be removed, the PAC is advocating and receiving wide support from opposition parties..
In the dialogue PAC held with the PP leadership, two parties reached the common agreement on both two critical issues: the 50+1 and removal of MPs voting powers at council meetings.
Ralph Jooma, PP’s leader of the delegation, who is also Chief Whip in Parliament told The Maravi Post that the Party will support both sticky issues the PAC is championing for the public interests.
Jooma observed MPs sticking with powers to vote at local council, was overriding responsibilities, which the lawmakers already have in Parliament.
The Chief Whip also said the legitimacy of the country’s leadership must be based on majority rule not the opposite.
Jooma who is also PP’s Vice President, said both amendments must be passed in the November sitting of Parliament and the Party will fully support it.
“We also want also the powers of sitting cabinet ministers to vote in Parliament to be removed because they do this task already at cabinet level. We don’t want one person having two powers to vote at any level; either parliament or local councils,” urges Jooma.
PAC’s Publicity Secretary Fr. Peter Mlomole, expressed gratitude over PP’s stand on the two critical issues; he said the nation is going in the right direction.
Fr. Mlomole said PAC expects the same spirit the party has shown during the meeting, will also be demonstrated in November once the bills are tabled.
For the past two months, PAC has engaged, Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa, the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Chakwera on bill, who assured that his Party will support it once tabled in Parliament.
Most MPs including cabinet ministers, have been reluctant to accept these reforms for fear of ceding power to other governing structures.
The religious body has therefore stood on its ground on the need for the law review that effective decentralization is manifested in the country.
PAC is expected to meet United Democratic Front (UDF), Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) leadership, and other stakeholders on the electoral reforms before next month’s Parliament session.