Deputy Minister of Local Government, Halima Daudi, has disclosed that the government is facilitating a review of the 2010 Local Government Act and the Decentralization Policy in order to address the concerns and challenges affecting the devolvement of powers to local councils.
Daudi was speaking in Mangochi on Thursday when she opened a two-day 2021 Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) general assembly and interaction with partners.
Her sentiments come amid growing concerns that the Local Government Act is old and impinging on the process of decentralization.
There have been also concerns that central government is failing to relinquish or devolve some of its powers to local councils.
However, Daudi did not state how the review is being done, only saying that government will issue a report once the review process is finalized.
She said the review is inevitable, more especially considering that the 2010 Local Government Act and the Decentralization Policy need to match with the current demands and environment.
“Government knows exactly what will be in the reviewed documents. We are acting with speed. When we are done with the process, we will issue a report. It is the Coronavirus pandemic, which is affecting the process currently. Otherwise, the review is going on. Discussions are underway with relevant government ministries, departments and agencies and other stakeholders,” said Daudi.
According to the deputy minister, government ministries, departments and agencies that are resisting devolution of powers, include Ministries of Tourism, Lands, Transport and Public Works and Health and Population.
Daudi said President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has requested her to ask the Minister of Finance to ‘seriously’ consider some of the submissions MALGA made during the pre-budget consultations.
Among others, MALGA requested for a bailout package for local councils, central government compliance with the Decentralization Policy, five percent threshold transfer of national annual revenue to local governments as unconditional grants, official vehicles for controlling officers and waiving of duty on official vehicles for mayors and duty free vehicles for ward councillors.
In his remarks, President of MALGA, Councillor Wild Ndipo, expressed happiness with government’s move to conduct the review, saying this will really perfect decentralization in Malawi.
“This is what we, MALGA, want as a mouthpiece of local governments. We would have loved if all sectors were devolved because in that way local governments would be really operating properly. And the devolvement should not only be human resources as it is mostly, now. It should also include finances to enable councils to decide for themselves what to do with those resources,” said Ndipo, who is also the Mayor of the City of Blantyre.
MALGA – an umbrella body of all local governments in Malawi – organized the assembly under the theme; Reflection on Decentralization and Local Governance in Malawi: Status and Challenges, The Current Political Landscape and Renewed Hope, Time to Pull Up the Socks.
The 2021 general assembly and interaction with partners drew together MALGA executive committee members, mayors, district chairpersons, city chief executive officers, district commissioners and other controlling officers from local councils that have paid their annual subscription.
It was organized with funding from UN Women under the Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between United Nations and European Union.
Other financers of the assembly were Prime Insurance Limited, Anti-Corruption Bureau and Development Fund for Local Authorities.
According to Ndipo, participants to the assembly reflected on how Malga and local councils are operating and made resolutions to forge ahead with more vibrant local governments.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :