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Ministry prays for an end to chaos

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development officials are at pains to explain how they can solve the crisis that has rocked the ministry over the past few years which has culminated into a ‘war of words’ between council officials and ward councillors.

Our sister paper Malawi News last weekend reported about a series of conflicts within some district councils where the two sides have clashed on a number of issues, a development that is in conflict with government’s decentralisation policy.

Spokesperson for the ministry Muhlabase Mughogho told The Daily Times in an emailed response that the ministry is taking some measures to instill, discipline.

“Change is gradual. The ministry still believes that the ‘chaotic events’ will stop occurring soon. A number of instances that were reported to the ministry for instance Chiradzulu, Karonga and Nkhotakota councils, were resolved through conducting meetings with concerned parties.

“However, the ministry has an ongoing training programme for councillors and council officials. During these trainings, conflict hotspots are addressed and team-building exercises are conducted,” she said.

Apart from events at Machinga District Council where last week councillors were about to throw out directors at the council, chairperson for Nkhotakota District Council Manfred Kwanjiwa told this reporter that the situation is slowly improving at the council.

“The issue here was about illegal land sales by council officials [at a place that] used to be the Nkhotakota airfield. We have discussed the issue through the ministry and we have agreed that the transactions will be reversed. This happened before councillors were elected so we were probing how it was conducted,” he said.

There have also been sporadic skirmishes between the two sides in other districts, including Chiradzulu, Blantyre and Chikwawa.

Besides, the ministry has seen legal battles from frustrate DCs who got demoted and transferred unceremoniously.

Mughogho hinted that some of the challenges noted were as a result of misunderstanding of roles.

“We are aware that there are strained relationships between councileors and council officers. Most of these border on personalities than clarity of their roles and responsibilities. In terms of their roles it is clear councileors are supposed to make strategic decisions spearheading the council to the most preferred conditions of state of affairs.

“On the other hand, officers are supposed to implement those decisions in effective and efficient manner. Ultimately officers have to put into effect the aspirations of the councileors,” she added.

According to Mughogho the ministry has also conducted trainings in councils mentioned on how to administer the Local Development Fund (LDF) which has also been another bone of contention.

 

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