District Commissioners should be hired by councils—Aford
The Alliance for Democracy, (Aford) has proposed that district councils should be given powers to hire and fire district commissioners as one way of strengthening decentralisation.
Aford leaders made the suggestion to the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) on Monday in Blantyre.
Pac is lobbying political parties in the country to support two bills— Local Government Act (Amendment) and Electoral Reforms—to be tabled in the November 2017 Parliament.
Aford president, Enoch Chihana, said recruitment, transferring and firing of DCs is politicised, a development that retards the growth of councils and rural areas.
“We are in full support of the 50+1 electoral reforms. Our support will be in the form of convincing other Members of Parliament (MPs) not to shoot down the bill. Of course, there are challenges to it but they will be ironed out with time. You know, with the current [first-past-the-post] electoral system which the country uses, the president does not have support of the majority of people of Malawi,” he said.
On the removal of voting powers of MPs at councils, Chihana said it is a welcome development but stakeholders have to tread carefully.
“I propose that that MPs should have offices at the council to easily [perform] their oversight role. The other thing is that the appointment of district commissioners should not be done by government but rather by councils. In this way, they will be answerable to the council, hence promoting decentralisation,” he said.
Pac Chairperson, Reverend Felix Chingota, said they are upbeat that most lawmakers will support the two bills as they are for the benefit of the country.
He argued that the idea of engaging political party leaders is for them to enlighten their MPs on the two bills.
“At the outset, we would like to report that Pac-Government Technical Team dialogue adopted resolutions committing the government to table electoral and Local Government reforms in Parliament. This is a good development on the government side but the responsibility remains with the lawmakers who are expected to put the proposals into effect,” he said
Pac said the removal of voting powers of MPs at council level was copied from Zambia.
Zambia went further to remove the full participation of MPs at councils. MPs are only invited on council issues that need to be referred to them for either guidance or onward presentation in Parliament.
Currently, Pac has dated Malawi Congress Party and People’s Party on Electoral and Local Government reforms
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