Lilongwe residents suggest regular town-hall meetings to address mistrust and misunderstanding

Lilongwe residents have suggested that Lilongwe City Council should be conducting regular town hall meetings in order to addressing problems of mistrust and misunderstandings between duty-bearers and services users.

Speaking at Don Bosco Parish during a town hall meeting for Tsabango 2 Ward, the residents stated that town hall meetings are the only platform that can help in creating and building mutual trust between service providers and users.

The council has recently reintroduced town hall meetings with support from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP Lilongwe) and Oxfam Malawi through project, which is being financially supported by the European Union (EU) and Royal Norwegian Embassy through Tilitonse Foundation.

Mayor for Lilongwe City Council Richard Banda addressing residents at Area 23–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

Councillor for Tsabango 2 Ward, McTonnick Phiri, said town hall meetings have helped remove distrust and suspicions the voters had used to have about their elected officers.

“These meetings provide a platform where council officials and councillors meet with their constituents either to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss specific development issues. It’s exciting to hear the residents presenting their grievances direct to the mayor and council officials, which means the electorate will no longer doubt us when we say the council doesn’t have funds for a certain project because they are hearing it for themselves,” said Phiri.

Chasukwa–This will increase the level of understanding and unity between the council and residents –Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Mayor for Lilongwe City Council, Councillor Richard Banda, said town hall meetings have also created a platform for the council to raise awareness on the need for residents to pay city and ground rates.

Banda said the council is currently owed K12 billion in city and ground rates, a situation that has rendered it helpless when it comes to provision of quality services to the residents.

“We are very grateful to CCJP Lilongwe and Oxfam Malawi because they have helped us discuss the possible way of recovering this money so that we can improve on service delivery. There’s no way a council can provide a quality service without the residents fulfilling their obligation of paying rates,” he said.

CCJP Lilongwe District Coordinator Yvonne Chasukwa said CCJP Lilongwe and Oxfam Malawi initiated the urban governance project to create a platform for dialogue between stakeholders in LCC following revelations that poor coordination led to compromised service delivery.

Chasukwa said they were impressed with the level of openness and depth of engagement between duty-bearers and service users since the project started.

“We believe that this will increase level of understanding and unity between the council and residents thereby improving the quality of service,” she narrated.

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