Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) says there is need to review the statutes governing the election of mayors for the country’s city and municipal councils to allow residents take part.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Malga executive director Hadrod Mkandawire said the review should also include removing members of Parliament (MPs) as voters in mayoral elections.
He said: “We have to carry on with this debate because it has died with the passing of time. We need to have a legislative amendment, but before we do so, there is need to have a serious discussion.”
Mkandawire also said it is not in order for MPs to be voting in elections at council level, stressing that Malga has all along been opposing such an amendment.
Malga’s sentiments come at a time the country’s four city councils of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba as well as Luchenza and Kasungu municipalities are set to go to the polls to elect mayors and their deputies. The elections follow the expiry of the incumbents’ two-and-a-half-year terms of office.
In his reaction, University of Malawi political analyst Blessings Chinsinga, now appointed Minister of Local Government, said elsewhere in the world, mayors are not voted for by their peers as the case in Malawi. He said the local practice is not good.
He said mayors are pivotal in the welfare of urban areas, as
such, they need to be voted into office by the wider public.
Chinsinga said: “MPs are also not supposed to be voting at council level because we are talking about separation of powers here. Maybe it would be ideal that MPs should only be at council level as ex-officio members. That’s the good form of practice elsewhere in the world.”
In separate inter views yesterday, council representatives said preparations for the elections have started.
In a written response, Blantyre City Council spokesperson Deborah Luka said the council is scheduled to hold its elections on January 19 2022. But she said the council is yet to start receiving nominations.
In a separate interview, Mzuzu City Council spokesperson MacDonald Gondwe said the council is set to hold the elections on December 17 2021.
He also said aspirants are not known as no nominations have been filed.
Li longwe City Counci l spokesperson Tamara Chafunya said the council will hold the mayoral elections this month, but is yet to set the specific date.
A notice from Zomba City Council shows that the elections are scheduled for December 22 2021 and that two councillors have shown interest to contest.
In an interview yesterday, Kasungu Municipal Council information officer Vincent Khonje said the elections will be held tomorrow.
On his part, Luchenza Municipal Council information officer Tikondane Vega said the council plans to hold the elections next week, but a specific date is yet to be set.
Malawi resumed voting for ward councillors in the 2014 Tripartite Elections since the dissolution of local councils in 2005