Malawi must hold tripartite election 2014 – Undule

Malawi government should clear the legal challenges  to ensure  the holding of the local polls alongside parliamentary and presidential election in 2014, says Undule Mwakasungula, Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR.

Speaking during the official opening of area development committee training in Mchinji district Monday, Mwakasungura pointed out that Malawi’s failure to hold local government elections since 2005 is stifling democracy.

He observed that failure to hold elections for councillors has affected “decentralization equation”.

“As a result, there has beenno democratically elected officials at the local level to take concerns from communities to the Council and vice versa,” he said.

Undule: Malawi needs councillors

“This challenge has trickled down to district level since districts have lacked democratically elected people who can make decisions on behalf of the people.”

Mwakasungura said the offices of the District Commissioner or other makeshift structures have been making the decisions at the local level.

The righst campaigner said the situation raises questions whether decisions made by such structures take into consideration the needs and wishes of communities considering that they don’t live with the communities as councilors do.

CHRR boss urged governmentto “demonstrate its political will” to make decentralization work in Malawi by ensuring that the country hold tripartite elections in 2014.

He said: “CHRR, as a human rights NGO, is particularly interested in ensuring that our democracy continues to grow and mature and we cannot meaningfully pursue this cause if we do not pay particular attention to local governance.”

Added Mwakasungura: “It is through local governance that democracy is taken to the people hence giving them the space to participate in decision making on matters that affect their lives.”

Mwakasungula also spoke against chiefs who unliterary put in place and preside over Area Development Committees (ADC) and Village Development Committees (ADC) meetings saying doing so doesn’t allow for people’s participation in decision making.

He observed that in some areas decentralization has created conflict among stakeholders such as chiefs, legislators, ADCs and office of the district commissioner.

Mwakasungula, therefore, commended Tilitonse Fund for providing financial and technical assistance to implement the “Capacity Building project for local governance structures and communities on development” of which this workshop is one of the activities.

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