Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) has expressed anger over the decision by the ward councillors to seal offices of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other senior officers of the Lilongwe City Council (LCC), describing the action as unacceptable and illegal.
LCC councilors led by Mayor Juliana Kaduya on Monday sealed offices of the council’s CEO John Chome and other senior officers over non-payment of their November honararia.
Kaduya and the councillors accused the management of being incompetent and asked that they be fired.
Apparently, an LCC letter signed by Chome, which went viral on social media, tells the council’s staff that “their salaries will delay and that payment will start with lower cadre members of staff.”
The letter, which Nyasa Times has seen, says, in part, that the salaries will delay “because the council has no money as it is not realizing enough revenue from city rates and other sources”.
But in an interview with Nyasa Times, MALGA Executive Director, Hadrod Zeru Mkandawire, said the councilors could have resolved the matter through dialogue, adding that if they had specific concerns with key performance indicators for the management, they should have followed procedures.
In justifying the closure of the offices, Kaduya told the media that “she had not been consulted on the delay of salaries and saw the letter through social media like anyone else.”
“In fact, all the councilors and other members of staff did not know anything. We are surprised this letter is coming out now when it is already a month end and people had been eagerly anticipating their salaries. They could have informed us earlier enough so we could brace ourselves. As it stands now, where will people get the money instead, considering that they had already made plans and budgets,” said Kaduya.
But Mkandawire insisted that sealing the offices of management was way too far, describing “the tendency” as worrisome.
“We have learnt with regret and concern the decision taken by councilors of Lilongwe City Council. They should be reminded that in the Local Government Act or Decentralization Policy or chapter of the Constitution which establishes local governments, there is no provision mandating any member of a council to close an official office of a controlling officer or any officer of a council at secretariat.
“Not even the Minister of Local Government. Not even the Secretary for Local Government. Nobody has that power. There are procedures that must be followed, even when it is the ministry which wants to take legal action against a council. We condemn in the strongest terms what has happened at Lilongwe City Council,” said Mkandawire, who is also a lawyer by profession.
Mkandawire then urged members of LCC to “immediately and quickly” reopen offices of the CEO and other directors and resolve their disagreements through dialogue.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :