Cabinet backs Members of Parliament


The Cabinet Committee on Constitutional, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs has agreed to maintain its earlier position that Members of Parliament (MPs) should not have their voting powers in local councils stripped off.

The decision to give MPs voting rights in local councils was made by the MPs themselves when they decided to amend the Local Government Act in 2010.

But many civic groups want that provision to be amended.


The decision to still keep the voting powers of MPs puts the Cabinet committee on a collision course with the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) – an influential rights group pushing for the removal of MPs’ voting rights in local councils.

Another grouping opposed to maintaining the voting rights of MPs is the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust because it believes it is unconstitutional

“Maintaining voting powers in councils for MPs does not only give MPs the job that is not theirs but also violates [provisions of] the Republican Constitution,’’ Nice Executive Director Ollen Mwalubunju said


Pac wants the yet-to-be tabled Local Government Act Amendment Bill to facilitate the removal of the voting rights of legislators.

Pac Executive Director, Robert Phiri, said in an interview that his office is yet to receive latest information on the Cabinet committee’s decision.

Phiri, however, said Pac would only recognise what the government technical team comes up with as well as what was adopted on the Local Government Act and electoral reforms.

“That is an agreement we have and we are operating using that agreement. This is the technical team President [Peter] Mutharika appointed. We have not received any communication to the contrary,” Phiri said when informed about what transpired on Thursday last week.

When the Cabinet committee first met on April 6 2016 to consider the proposed amendments, it resolved that the removal of MPs’ voting powers would be premature, let alone removing MPs from the council.

The only good news to Pac and Nice is that the Thursday meeting has approved the proposal to remove the powers of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in appointing district commissioners (DCs) and council chief executive officers (CEOs).

The committee is said to have agreed that the power to appoint DCs and CEOs should be vested in the Local Government Service Commission.

“And they have included a provision that the appointment should be done upon the recommendation of the council,” an insider said on condition of anonymity.

The Cabinet committee resolutions are subjected to a full Cabinet approval and it remains to be seen whether the Thursday Cabinet committee resolutions would form part of the Amendment Bill.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, promised to table the bill during the forthcoming November meeting of Parliament.

Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Kiswell Dakamau, said it would be premature to discuss Cabinet committee resolutions.

“The position of Cabinet is known when the issue is discussed at Cabinet level and not Cabinet committee level. Let’s wait for the time the bill will be presented in Parliament and see what the Cabinet’s position will be,” Dakamau said.

The Local Government Act was enacted in 1998 following the adoption of the National Decentralisation Policy in the same year.

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