The Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) has faulted ward councillors for prioritising the closure of council secretariats instead of engaging those suspected of being in the wrong.
MALGA Chairperson Hadrod Mkandawire was reacting to Mangochi Municipal Council councillors’ action to close offices which the chief executive officer for the council uses.
The councillors sealed the offices yesterday morning over disagreements bordering on mayoral elections.
Last week, Machinga District Council councillors sealed the Machinga District Hospital entrance as one way of expressing dissatisfaction with service delivery at the facility.
Recently, councillors in Lilongwe City, Mulanje and Chikwawa district councils adopted the same approach.
However, Mkandawire has faulted the councillors for taking the law into their hands.
“What is happening is a clear manifestation that the councillors lack capacity in handling conflicts.
“As such, we have engaged the Ministry of Local Government to find better ways of dealing with this. Our stand is that councillors cannot solve a problem by being violent,” Mkandawire said.
There have not been mayoral elections at Mangochi Municipal Council because the incumbent is yet to conclude her two-and-a-half-year term, according to MALGA.
Mkandawire said the Ministry of Local Government had communicated to the council about this position; such that issues the councillors are raising do not hold water.
He said the current mayor was voted as chairperson during her first term before being elected as mayor during her second term after the government upgraded Mangochi Town Council to Municipal Council.
“So the issue of holding elections for mayor is not there. The Mangochi Council, MALGA and the Ministry of Local government are aware of this position because the current mayor has to conclude her two-and-a-half-year term as mayor without counting the year she served as chairperson,” he said.
However, representative of Mangochi Municipal Council councillors Wellington Mangulenje faulted the council secretariat for failing to adhere to provisions of the Local Government Act.
Mangulenje said the councillors wanted the secretariat to call for elections because the current tenure of office of the mayor and her deputy had expired.
“They lied to us that they would call for elections in December last year but, now, they are telling us that there will be no elections. This is against the law. We demand that they call for elections so that people can have a legally elected mayor,” Mangulenje said.