Council officials have been accused of frustrating government efforts to entrench decentralisation and devolution of powers in district, town, municipal and city councils in the country.
Ward councillor for Mkoma Ward in Mchinji West Constituency Nathan Washington Ndhlamini (Malawi Congress Party-MCP)disclosed yesterday that majority of the council officials continue to resist the oversight role of councillors and members of Parliament (MPs) in economic governance and management and implementation of developmental projects.
Ndhlamini made the remarks in Mchinji when Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) presented findings of the public expenditure tracking (PET) project.
Mejn has been implementing a capacity enhancement for local stakeholders’ effective participation in pro-poor policy and budget formulation and implementation project in Blantyre, Mchinji, Ntcheu, Karonga and Zomba, among others.
Said the councillor: “We are still facing challenges because majority of the civil servants do not want to accommodate and embrace councillors and MPs. They are still resisting the oversight role of councillors and MPs in the economic governance and management.”
Senior Mejn Mchinji Chapter member Martin Munthali observed that council secretariats will continue frustrating decentralisation processes as long as councillors and MPs are denied recruiting powers.
He disclosed that during the time the network was implementing the project, they saw elements of disrespectful attitudes towards elected officers by some council officials.
“That’s why we have been challenging you, MPs and councillors, to advocate recruiting powers. Government should give councillors and MPs powers to recruit DCs [distirct commissioners] and other senior officials and make them responsible/report to you. That’s the only way to address or avert frictions between the council secretariat and elected officers,” he said,” said Munthali.
Mchinji District Council chairperson Edson Josiah (Msitu Ward in Mchinji South Constituency-Malawi Congress Party-MCP) said there is increased participation of ordinary citizens in formulation, implementation, tracking and monitoring of development structures at the grassroots.
Mejn executive director Dalitso Kubalasa reiterated calls for increased citizen participation to achieve enhanced good governance, transparency and accountability through participatory and people-centred economic governance. n