Three of the country’s four cities—Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu—will in January 2017 hold mayoral elections following the expiry of two and a half year terms of office for the incumbents.
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said in an interview yesterday that there will be no mayoral elections in Zomba City Council (ZCC) as the council agreed that the new mayor should also hold office for two and a half years as she was only elected in September last year.
She said the offices of Mayor and Deputy Mayor help in operations of the council; hence, the local government system cannot run properly without mayors and councillors.
Said Mughogho: “Obviously, there have been ups and downs, but the positives outweigh the weaknesses. There is remarkable change in operations of the councils.”
During the elections, councillors will vote for mayor and deputy mayor positions, but to date, councillors, including incumbent officer holders, are shy to declare their interest.
However, in Mzuzu City Council (MCC) three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) affiliated councillors have expressed interest to challenge incumbent Mayor William Mkandawire of People’s Party (PP).
In Lilongwe, the elections are set for January 5 2017 while Blantyre and Mzuzu will go to the polls four days later on January 9.
In September last year, ZCC elected Melia Likoswe Douglas as mayor replacing Joana Ntaja who died barely a year in office.
In an interview yesterday, Lilongwe City Council chief executive officer Moza Zeleza confirmed that the elections have been slated for January 5.
However, he said he had not been officially communicated about councillors that have expressed interest to compete in the elections. Lilongwe City has 27 councillors.
Said Zeleza: “Officially, I have not been told about those that have shown interest, but we are having elections on the 5th [of January]. It could be because of the holidays.”
Blantyre City Council public relations manager Anthony Kasunda said in an interview yesterday the council will hold the election on January 9, adding that no one has come out clear to express interest. Blantyre City has 23 councillors.
He said: “The elections have also been slated on the same day [January 9] as Mzuzu. So far, nobody we know of has expressed interest to contest in the elections.”
But some sources indicated that there are three councillors seeking to challenge incumbent Noel Chalamanda.
On his part, MCC spokesperson Karen Msiska said only three DPP councillors have expressed interest to contest on the position of mayor for the city. Mzuzu City has 15 councillors.
According to Msiska, no one has also expressed interest in the position of deputy mayor currently held by PP councillor Frazer Chunga.
He said there are indications that candidates will declare their interest on the day of the elections as a tactical move.
Blantyre has independent councillor Chalamanda at the helm whereas Lilongwe has DPP’s Willie Chapondera.
District Councils elect their chairpersons and vice-chairpersons after a one year term in office while the term of office for city mayors and town council chairpersons is two and half years. n