Malawi Local Government Association (Malga)-an umbrella body of all local councils–has expressed concern over the frequent transferring of district commissioners (DCs), saying the tendency is affecting development, progress and institutional memory of the councils.
Newly appointed acting executive director for Malga, Hadrod Zeru Mkandawire, made these remarks in an interview with Nyasa Times, adding that the frequent transfers are contributing to poor development delivery outcomes in some councils.
Mkandawire then urged the Ministry of Local Government to undertake a “serious soul searching” if the tendency is contributing to the realisation of full decentralization as aspired by legal and policy frameworks that established local governments.
However, the Ministry of Local Government has not yet reacted to Malga’s concerns as Nyasa Times efforts to get a comment from the ministry’s spokesperson, proved futile
Malga’s worries, said Mkandawire, have been especially heightened by transfers effected more recently that have seen Dedza and Chikwawa districts having four DCs, respectively, over the past three years.
On the other hand–Karonga, Neno, Zomba and Mchinji districts have had three DCs each over the past three years due to transfers.
According to Mkandawire, another worrying development is the recent transfer of Mchinji DC Peter Jimusole to Mwanza–less than seven months after he was transferred from Ntchisi.
He said: “Now, this frequent transfer of DCs creates instability at the Council as it affects continuity of development implementation hence making it difficult for the council leadership to effectively carry out effective and meaningful performance and financial accountability over controlling officers. In addition, it has an impact in the long term on personal career progression and personal life of the affected DCs”.
Mkandawire further said these frequent transfers affect long term development planning and implementation, adding that it becomes difficult for councils to properly set key performance indicators for the DC and track the DC’s performance.
“Much as we appreciate that the DCs are central government employees seconded to the councils, the Ministry of Local Government should be cognizant of the fact that any secondment as recently clearly instructed by the Attorney General, has procedures.
“One of the prominent steps the AG elucidated is the importance of consulting the officer to be seconded as well as the current duty station of the public officer and the new designated duty station.
“We have noted with great concern that in the majority of the cases, neither the transferred DC nor the leadership of the current duty station nor the designated new duty station are consulted,” he said.
But when contacted for her comment, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Local Government, Anjoya Mwanza, said she needed to consult her superiors and promised to come back to Nyasa Times--which she never did even after being called and texted.
With its secretariate in the Capital, Lilongwe, Malga’s mandate is to represent the interests of local councils.
The association works to build viable, credible and suistainable local governments as vehicles of entrenching decentralization and rural development in Malawi.
It consolidates local governments’ voice to inform their policy influence and dialogue geared at improving the decentralization environment.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :