Mbadwa: The Ministry of Local Government was given enough time to do its homework and respond to queries that, as parent ministry, it is failing in its role to police city councils. The mushrooming of sub-standard buildings in central business districts of the country’s cities has been a major concern.
Despite residents continuously paying city rates, township roads are in pathetic conditions while refuse collection is done as a ‘by the way’ thing. Village structures are mushrooming in a manner that shows that councils do not follow their master plans.
Now, there is a question of market fires which are happening at a disgustingly alarming rate year-in and year-out, yet the councils are not learning anything. Is it part of the DNA of councils that their markets should always be prone to fire?
Minister of Local Government Sangalalani Nakondwa, this court gave you enough time to provide a detailed response why you are treating city councils with kid gloves.
Sangalalani Nakondwa: My Lord, the Ministry of Local Government has been in the forefront advocating the policy of decentralisation and when the citizens queried us for not reining in on councils, we were a little bit hesitant to fully respond because we believe that respective councils have well-defined set-ups that can independently and competently handle development issues.
As a politician, however, I can say without fear of contradiction that under the wise and dynamic leadership of Mapuya, you have seen cities being transformed beyond recognition. Dual carriageways are mushrooming in Blantyre and Lilongwe. You have seen how beautiful the Masauko Chipembere Highway looks in Limbe. We are planting flowers, and even stones, where there were none in roundabouts and along highways.
On sub-standard structures, Blantyre City Council has earmarked 161 buildings for demolition come March 2016 while a verification exercise is ongoing in Lilongwe and Zomba. The refuse collection problem will be a thing of the past because of the coming in of Decorate Malawi (Deam), the organisation will buy more brooms and employ scavengers who roam refuse dumping sites (kuntaya) to start doing the scavenging in residential areas so that the refuse should disappear at the collection point. We believe this brilliant idea is in line with government’s policy of reducing emissions that come about due to the burning of refuse at dumping sites. With this policy, councils will no longer have to budget for fuel for refuse collection because scavengers will be visiting residences to sort out the refuse in bins. As for the fires, the opposition knows better.
Mbadwa: Honourable Minister, the citizens complained that you are failing to erect streetlights in your cities and the dual carriage-ways you are bragging about resemble ghost streets at night, why is this so?
Sangalani Nakondwa: My Lord, our government deliberately postponed the programme of erecting streetlights because of the power rationing exercise Escom is carrying out. Even if we were to erect street lights, most of the streets would at one time be dark because of the frequent blackouts. We were waiting for the Kammwamba Power Generation Project funded by the Chinese to roll out. After the completion of the project in few years, the country will generate enough power to supply to our streets.
Mbadwa: Honourable Minister, your responses were not good enough to inspire confidence and show that your ministry is in control. The citizens want to see change and are not going to applaud you for planting flowers or building a highway when town roads are almost non-existent. You sound as if you don’t know how to handle councils. This court is ordering you to start following up on what councils are doing to ensure that it is in line with your development plans. Dismissed.