Vice-President Saulos Chilima says he is impressed with the progress the Ministry of Local Government has made in the implementation of its reforms.
Chilima, who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, said this in Lilongwe yesterday during a reforms quarterly review meeting with the ministry’s officials.
He said the process to amend the Local Government, and Chiefs Acts, the review of the National Decentralisation Policy and formulation of the Chiefs Administration Policy show the zeal the ministry has towards the revamping of the local government system.
Said Chilima: “It is time to show the people that the Ministry of Local Government is an important ministry beyond chiefs’ administration as portrayed.
“May you start defining your focus. You should also clarify on the human resource function at councils where the local governments should be able to hire and fire their human resources to address the high vacancy rates and also avoid unnecessary transferring of staff.”
He further said the ministry should clarify the roles of the heads of the devolved sectors in the councils to avoid challenges that pertain to dual reporting.
“This has been a great challenge in the implementation of the decentralisation programme,” said Chilima.
The Veep also urged the ministry to look at establishing secondary cities and to consider piloting few sites in the initial stage before scaling up to other sites.
He told the officials to accelerate efforts and ensure that a concept paper is brought before Cabinet before December this year, so that financing for the same can be considered in the next Budget Session of Parliament.
The ministry, has so far, completed four of the 15 reform areas and achieved 81 percent progress on the remaining 11 reform areas.
In his remarks, Secretary for Local Government Charles Kalemba assured the Vice-President that the ministry is targeting the end of this financial year to have the current set of reform areas completed.
He said the next set of reform areas include increased service delivery and to make councils economic hubs for national development.
Said Kalemba: “The ministry is amending the Local Government Act [LGA] so that it brings sanity in councils, especially in the way councils conduct their business.
“The amendment of LGA will improve complementarity between the central government and local governments in the delivery of the Malawi 2063.”
On her part, the Deputy Minister of Local Government Halima Daud said her office will provide the necessary political backup to ensure that the reforms are carried out and delivered on time.
Chilima is serving a second term as Vice-President, having been in the same position under the former president Peter Mutharika.
The Vice-President was in charge of the Public Sector Reforms Programme during which he introduced reforms that were lauded by critics for being effective.