The Local Government Service Commission says local councils in the country have a 45 percent vacancy rate, a development that is negatively affecting operations and service delivery.
The commission’s executive secretary Berlings Kumpata said in an interview his secretariat has since submitted a K1.04 billion budget to Treasury to first fill headship positions, including those of directors, in the 2018/19 fiscal year.
However, he said Treasury was yet to start disbursing funds for the fiscal year that rolled out on July 1; hence, recruitment of the relevant officers is yet to start.
Kumpata was reacting to queries from Nkhata Bay district commissioner (DC) Rodney Simwaka who lamented that his office is operating without nine key staff, including directors of finance, public works, planning and development and an internal auditor.
The DC said other vacant posts are that of director of administration, district environmental health officer, district Aids coordinator, assistant registrar and assistant district disaster management officer.
In an interview yesterday, Simwaka said the vacant positions are key to progress of the council and to acceleration of development in the district. He said his council is operating at just 35 percent of its capacity.
He said: “Besides being overwhelmed by work as a result of discharging duties of offices they are combining, issues of capacity and competence become critical as evidenced by sluggishness in accomplishing assessments.
“I have called it a crisis because the facilitation and coordination of the council development and operational activities lies with the aforementioned vacant positions. The absence of these offices acutely affects performance and progress that the office is supposed to make.”
Simwaka said he has engaged the commission on the issue, but there has been no progress.
But Kumpata said government is aware of the high vacancy rate in local government councils and is undertaking steps to fill the vacancies.
He said: “We came up with a prioritised list of posts that we need to fill urgently and these mostly are those headship positions such as the directors. We submitted a budget to Treasury for filling of those positions and the Secretary to Treasury in principle responded they are going to grant us K1.04 billion which we requested for.”
Kumpata said he has already written the Department of Human Resource Management and Development requesting for authority to start filling those positions.