Tilitonse Foundation hails LCC for involving residents and stakeholders in implementation of Public Sector Reforms

Tilitonse Foundation has hailed Lilongwe City Council for involving residents and other stakeholders in the implementation of Public Sector Reforms.

Speaking on the sidelines of the reforms review workshop in Salima recently, the foundation’s Governance Research and Development Manager, Janet Chidothi, emphasized that the involvement of the residents and stakeholders is crucial in the attainment of Malawi 2063 development agenda.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP Lilongwe) and Oxfam Malawi facilitated the workshop with financial support from European Union (EU) and Royal Norwegian Embassy through Tilitonse Foundation.

Sagawa–Reforms can’t mean anything if we don’t involve our stakeholders–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

CCJP Lilongwe and Oxfam Malawi are jointly implementing an urban governance project, which is designed to create a platform for dialogue between stakeholders in LCC following revelations that poor coordination led to compromised service delivery.

Chidothi said it is encouraging that Lilongwe City Council has taken the reforms head on in spite of the economic challenges it is currently facing.

She added that since the reforms hinge on leaving no one behind, the councils and stakeholders should therefore collaborate in their implementation to ensure every citizen benefits.

“It’s quite encouraging. It’s the first time that we have seen a city council interested to take up the reforms. You know this is a difficult issue and we have been talking about city council and district council reforms. But Tilitonse Foundation is trying to work with Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu City Councils. The purpose is actually to support them with mechanisms, but also technical support that will enable them to start working on the reforms and also implement them,” she said.

Chidothi disclosed that their desire is to see the councils’ governance structures getting improved since it hinges on operations at a community level.

She said their interactions with various communities revealed that there is general outcry for improved service delivery at community level.

“People are very willing to pay for the services that the councils are offering them. But they are unable to commit or even make those required payments because of the poor service provision in their councils. But when you come at the council level, you can actually see that the people are committed; they want their councils to improve. But they are actually constrained by the resources that they have.

“Now, this is the time that we need to sit down together as citizens, but also service providers as the council itself to come up with the solutions that will actually make us improve our city councils,” stated Chidothi.

Deputy Mayor for Lilongwe City Council (LCC) Esther Sagawa concurred with Chidothi, stressing that the reforms could remain mere paperwork unless there is unity of purpose.

Sagawa attributed the current poor service delivery to lack of collaboration between the council and residents.

The Deputy Mayor made the sentiments when she opened a one-day reforms review workshop in Salima.

Sagawa lamented that, for decades, the council has been struggling to collect enough revenue to improve its services because residents demand services before making payment.

“There has been a tug-of-war before where residents or communities would demand that the council should first implement a programme before collecting any revenue from them. For example, we need money for garbage collection, yet the residents are demanding that we collect garbage before we collect city rates,” she said.

Sagawa attributed the compromised service provision to lack of collaboration between the council and residents.

She cited the long-standing disagreement between the council and residents on payment of city and market rates.

“The council has been lagging behind in terms of revenue collection because residents or communities have been demanding that the council should offer the service first before making any collection. Yet, the council does not have the required financial resources to provide the service they are asking for. For example, we need money for garbage collection and the like,” she said.

Sagawa expressed optimism that the implementation of the reforms will help break “break this vicious circle” and enable residents to understand their obligation to the council.

“Our aim as LCC is to have a perfect reform that is well implemented with our communities and stakeholders wholeheartedly receiving it. The council recognizes the importance of working together because we know that our strength is the stakeholders in this city and that is why we are looking up to the implementation of these reforms that we should be able to break this vicious circle and help residents understand their obligation,” she narrated.

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