Ministry of Local Government has challenged controlling officers in local councils to improve on performance and prove critics wrong by prudently managing public funds and avoiding engaging in corruption.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary James Chiusiwa said this in Salima on Monday during the opening of an annual conference of Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) Managers Network (Magnet), a network comprising district commissioners (DCs) and chief executive officers (CEOs) of local government councils.
He said the public has over the years built a perception that councils are wasteful and corrupt, although recent audit reports show that local government councils are performing much better than other public institutions.
Chiusiwa said: “As controlling officers of local governments, you need to tighten all the loose ends and seal all leakages on financial management at the local level.
“The Magnet forum is strategically positioned to contribute to the foregoing aspiration.”
He said local government has capable staff that can turn things around and urged the controlling officers not to relent in safeguarding the public purse.
In his remarks, Malga-Magnet chairperson Reinghard Chavula said most of the challenges coming out from the local governments are not particularly the making of controlling officers, but rather a long-established system that needs to be dealt with.
She said: “We have a system that makes controlling officers staff managers without meaningful disciplining authority, making some errant officers behave and act as they wish-knowing someone politically connected at Capital Hill will protect them.”
Malga executive director Hadrod Mkandawire indicated that the network, which was established in 2017, has been instrumental in providing technical input into Malga advocacy and representation work geared at improving the decentralisation environment at the national level.
The conference was held under the theme Moving Forward with Decentralisation by Fostering Networking and Information Sharing.
Magnet is used for lobbying and advocacy while strengthening human capacity of local councils through peer-learning.