Experts fault slow decentralisation process
Analysts have bemoaned the slow pace in the devolution of powers which has left the central government controlling most of the sectors, 17 years after the policy was adopted.
In its summary findings, the Second National Decentralization Programme (NDPII), which covered 57 percent of councils, showed that there were frequent staff changes at senior management which affected continuity of the decentralisation process.
The review was led by development expert, Milton Kutengule.
The programme, which was conducted from March to September 2014, also noted bureaucratic resistance to sector devolution with only 15 sectors such as Education, Health and Agriculture devolved by 2014.
One of the district commissioners from the Southern Region, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the human resource element is often overlooked yet it is essential to the success of the councils.
“Various officers are moved at the discretion of the central government which is not conversant with the reality on the ground. The human resource element is another important factor as it becomes difficult to take them to task at the local level.”
“Even with fiscal devolution, we are still limited because for main development activities, it’s still the central government that is in control,” complained another DC.
Political scientist, Happy Kayuni, said in the current scenario, development is suffering.
“Since meaningful local participation is also muted through institutional and legal set up as depicted in the 2010 Local Government amended Act, we should not expect genuine development to take root unless we take devolution of power seriously at local level,” said Kayuni.
He said the local government amendment Act of 2010 eroded influence of local councils where among others Members of Parliament vote.
“Several attempts have been made to ensure that devolution of power takes place but those in authority feel comfortable to have an entity that they can control and not something which is not in their grasp. This is the case not only in Malawi but in most African countries,” he said.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson, Muhlabase Mughogho, said they expect that the Public Service Reforms Programme would help in making devolution of powers from central government to district councils.
“As a Ministry, we are not contented with the status quo because we have not achieved the National Decentralization Programme. Through a successful review of the first phase, we have come up with a revised National Decentralization Programme. The Ministry will revive this programme soon,” she said.
In the 2014/15 budget government allocated about K28 billion to the local councils.
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