President Peter Mutharika has expressed concern over increased reports of theft of public resources in the country’s local councils and has demanded an end to the malpractice.
The President expressed his sentiments when he met in audience members of Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Tuesday.
He said he has noted with concern increased lack of accountability in management of funds in councils.
Said the President: “There are increasing levels of abuse of resources. Yes, theft and corruption in councils. And I would like to say, this needs to be stopped as soon as possible.”
He said abuse of public funds discourages the central government and development partners alike from giving more resources and responsibilities.
“It is the wish of my government to move towards full decentralisation which would entail devolving the financial, human and physical resources to councils,” Mutharika said.
The President has since asked Malga as an umbrella body of all local councils in the country to help build the capacity of the councillors and support the accountability systems of councils.
In his remarks, Malga chairperson Samson Chaziya of Mazengera Ward in Lilongwe asked government to consider removing the voting rights for members of Parliament (MPs) in local councils.
Section 5 of the Local Government Act gives powers to MPs to vote at local councils’ operations while the Constitution in Section 143 provides for separation of powers.
Mutharika has since assured Malga that government is reviewing the Local Government Act and related Acts to be in line with modern demands of democracy and local governance.
He also said wards will be re-demarcated after the coming population census in 2018.
On Friday, The Nation reported that fraud and accountability queries have emerged against local councils which are failing to produce comprehensive expenditure reports following increased funding from K3 billion to K34.2 billion over a decade courtesy of decentralisation.
Titled Political Economy Analysis of Accountability for Resources and Results in Local Government Councils, the report follows a research conducted by Asiyati Lorraine Chiweza, a professor in the department of political and administrative studies at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi. n