National Planning Commission (NPC) has challenged city and town council authorities to prepare for the expected mapping exercise, saying priorities for the undertaking will come from them.
Speaking on Monday in Blantyre at a dinner organised for chief executive officers of city and town councils, NPC director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali said councils are critical in the exercise that will involve optimising and segmenting land in terms of bankable projects.
“Priorities for the councils are best done by you. You know the areas that can create wealth because development happens a lot at your levels,” he said at a meeting that attracted about 20 officials from city, town councils and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Munthali said the meeting was also critical at a time NPC is soliciting input to be included in the successor plan of Vision 2020, which is set to expire next year.
He said council officials could help NPC on how to structure “meaningful consultations” for the country’s long-term development agenda at local council level.
Munthali said as a country “we can do something that can leave a legacy for our children”.
He chided the culture of looking up to leaders and donors for everything, observing that the tendency is bringing the country down.
“We need to think outside the box. The truth is that the country is developing, but the pace of development is slow. This wealth creation begins with us,” he said.
On her part, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development director of local government services Sphiwe Mauwa commended NPC for the interaction, saying it was long overdue.
She said it was appropriate that they, as implementers of projects at council level, are consulted in good time not at a later stage as has always been the case.
Said Mauwa: “We should now look at the council’s perspective in terms of development. What is it that we can deliver to spur development?
“As councils, we need a lot of interaction with NPC. We have to invest in planning and keep on engaging.”
The ministry’s deputy director Walusungu Kayira said councils have well laid down plans and are always thinking big.
He, however, said the challenge is the mismatch of priorities of local and central government.
“During the reforms in the council, they [the councils], were challenged to think big,” said Kayira. Since its establishment by an Act of Parliament in 2017, NPC has changed Malawi’s development narrative from poverty reduction to spearheading wealth creation for all Malawians with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all Malawians live beyond surviving on basics to higher wealth levels and self-reliance.