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Government accused of failing decentralisation

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Government has been accused of clinging on to controlling local councils despite the total devolution of its powers under the Local Government Act of 1998.

Mangochi District Council Chairperson, Omar Magombo, said during a meeting organised by Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) that despite claims of devolution of power to local councils by government, most of the councils in the country do not have the powers to decide what to include in the budget.

“As councils, we do not have a say in what goes into the budgets because that power still rests with government despite their claims of decentralisation of power. We need to have all the powers as council if we are to meet people’s expectations through budgeting,” said Magombo.

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As a result, Magombo said, devolution in Malawi will not work because government is still holding on to the power which was supposed to be held by local councils.

He suggested that government should instead be more willing and practical in giving a chance to councils to decide areas which must be included in the budget in order to meet expectations of local people.

Mejn Programmes Manager Kelvin Chirwa urged government to increase budget allocations to local councils above the current five percent limit.

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He said councils have the mandate to ensure that critical issues relating to the youth are tackled through a budget framework, which he said is not possible with the current funding.

“The research we conducted in 2016/2017 revealed that there were so many implications such as lack of transparency when formulating budgets. These, among other challenges have been making it hard for children’s interests to be clearly spelt in the budget,” he said.

 

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