Controversy has arisen between councillors, Zomba City Council (ZCC)secretariat and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development over the latter’s decision not to conduct mayor’s election.
The country’s city councils are scheduled to hold mayoral elections in January 2017 following the expiry of two and a half years terms of office for the incumbents.
However, the ministry announced that ZCC will not have the elections because the incumbent—Melia Likoswe Douglas—will have to finish her full term.
Douglas assumed office after being elected in September 2015 to replace the late Joana Ntaja who died in March the same year after serving only one year.
But the development has frustrated some councillors who have described the move as “politically motivated”, arguing the ministry initially communicated that the polls would still be conducted.
ZCC has 10 councillors, including the mayor and deputy mayor, out of which a faction of eight is against the decision not to hold the polls.
The bloc is led by deputy mayor Davie Maunde who confirmed in an interview yesterday, that the councillors want to the mayoral elections to take place not just for the service committees.
He said: “When the former mayor [Ntaja] died, the ministry communicated to us through a circular stating that whoever would take over from her would only serve for the remaining period of the deceased’s tenure.”
Attempts to get a comment from Zomba chief executive officer Dyson Jangia yesterday proved futile, but in an earlier interview with The Nation the Zomba CEO said the Local Government Act states that when a person is elected, he or she should serve the entire term.
But according to a circular The Nation has seen signed by Secretary for Local Government and Rural DevelopmentKester Kaphaizi which was sent to Zomba CEO following the death of Ntaja, government indicated the newly elected mayor would serve “for the remaining part” of the tenure.
When contacted for comment, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said she needed time to consult before responding to our questions. However, she had not yet done so as we went to print yesterday. n