I have confessed several times that I was one of the few people who supported the inclusion of local government elections during the May 2014 elections. You may recall that it had to take a lot of effort for the citizenry and civil society to convince the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to hold tripartite elections, which meant inclusion of elections for councillors.
Some of the main reasons which were being propagated that time were sluggish development within the councils and failure of city council employees to enforce some regulations, including even formulation of new regulations.
I remember to have joined the band wagon mainly due to the second reason above. I was working for one of the local NGOs at that time, implementing a water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) project in Blantyre City. And I remember that some of the challenges we encountered in trying to promote Wash activities in the low income areas of the city were to do with lack of enforcement of city by-laws on Wash by council staff. During meetings, they convinced us that they were failing to enforce the regulations due to non -availability of councillors.
Now you can see why as a Wash practitioner, I had to be happy with the tripartite elections. Me and my fellow practitioners expected to notice improvements on the performance of our colleagues in city councils since they were going to have support from their elected councillors.
I should confess that I have seen little evidence of these improvements in sanitation and hygiene as a result of councillors ensuring enforcement of such regulations. This column has published several articles elaborating on several piece of legislation which are not being enforced by our council colleagues. All this to the detriment of the health of citizens and enjoyment of their environment.
What has irked me more now is what I read in The Nation of Monday, October 12 2015, in a story by George Singini, entitled “Mzuzu residents petition Arthur Peter Mutharika on night clubs”.
Ladies and gentlemen, on November 30 2014, this column carried a story entitled: “Why night clubs in residential areas”. The story was basically a cry from the people in residential areas of all the cities in Malawi due to the noise and other nuisances that come from these pubs. I also wondered why cities allow bars to operate in undesignated areas and, worse still, blazing music and operating beyond their time limit.
And this is happening now even when councillors, who were being cited as excuses, before, are present. What are they doing on this?
And what I hear is; people in Mzuzu petitioning the President to intervene on this simple legislative matter when we voted councillors in positions to help on this. Are we Malawians serious? Why should the whole President be tasked to do a simple councillors’ task? This should be shameful to all councillors and the responsible technical officers.
And the mayor of the City of Mzuzu was not even ashamed to agree with the situation and citing capacity as a reason. Yet, in the same newspaper, the Northern Region police spokesperson Maurice Chapola is quoted as saying they are ready to intervene. As a qualified environmental health specialist, I know that police require a request for support from the council. It is too much. Our mayors and councillors are a disgrace.