Mentorship programme for councillors to improve service delivery in councils

Scotland-based Active Learning Centre in partnership with Wome’s Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec) have began implementing a political mentoring programme for newly elected councillors in 11 district councils in Malawi in order to make them deliver to the expectations of the people.

Susan Dalgety (standing) addressing the councillors

At least 20 new councillors have been paired up with 20 other councillors elected in 2014 so that the experienced councillors support the new ones to understand their roles and responsibilities in the councils.

Active Learning Centre and Wolrec are implementing the mentoring programme with financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

Some of the councillors drawn from Rumphi, Dedza, Salima, Chiradzulu and several other districts met on Thursday in the Capital Lilongwe for a two day orientation of the programme.

Susan Dalgety from Active Learning Centre said the programme will inspire knowledge and confidence in the new councillors to serve people better.

“We hope the new councillors will be able to scrutinise and check what the secretariat and other officials are doing in the councils.

“Councillors are elected to represent the people and as such they must be able to go to council meetings to have conversation with secretariat to check progress on service delivery.

“If there is no progress, they are the ones who should challenge the secretariat and others who have the responsibility to implement progress,” she said.

According to Dalgety, the political mentoring programme for the newly elected councillors has been necessitated following the gaps noticed in the 11 district councils as a result of the Capacity Building and Transparency in Local Government project which Active Learning Centre and Wolrec have been implementing since 2014.

She said the councillors, among other things, lack the resources and have a challenge in getting the council systems, secretariat and other officials to implement their political manifestos.

“We also noted that accountability and fighting corruption is lacking and that there are controversies in the use of District Development Fund (DDF) and other funds.

“Councillors must answer to the people they represent by being able to understand how the council process works, how council budget works and how national government relate to local government,” said Dalgety.

Harry Munyenyembe, a councillor for Chinyolo-Mphompha Ward in Rumphi since 2014, said the mentoring programme is practical and indeed very important to the new councillors if they are to effectively contribute to the successful running of the district councils.

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