The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has evaded a contempt of court case by reversing its order that reduced the terms of office for chairpersons and their deputies in local council.
Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) had earlier obtained an injunction seeking a judicial review of what it sees as a “retrogressive” 2010 Local Government Amendment Act that trimmed office tenures of the leadership of district and city councils from five years to one year and two and a half years respectively.
The ministry’s local government services deputy director (management) Douglas Mkwete, in a communication to the councils, asked them to ignore his earlier communication dated July 10 2015 and put on hold the elections of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons.
Further reads the letter: “The ministry has been served with an injunction from the High Court of Malawi granted to Councillor Samson Chaziya, who is also president of Malga, restraining the ministry or anyone acting on behalf of the ministry from proceeding with the elections.”
Chaziya told The Nation in Lilongwe yesterday that the injunction articulates the concerns of both the district and city council and the other councillors who contend that the frequent leadership changes can deprive constituents of effective development.
In the absence of the injunction, district councils would have been going to the polls to elect new chairpersons and their deputies a year after being put in office following their triumph in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections. In the case of cities, the mayors and their deputies could have had their terms expire in the next 18 months.
Malawi has 462 councillors, each receiving a monthly honorarium of K80 000 ($178).