Minister of Local Government, Unity and Culture Richard Chimwendo Banda has cautioned his fellow politicians against abusing their powers in an attempt to usurp administrative powers in councils.
The minister said he had noted that political interference is common in most councils and feared that this has the potential to affect implementation of some development projects.
In an interview on the sidelines of a quarterly coordination meeting with councils in Mzuzu on Friday, Chimwendo Banda said politicians should distinguish between political and administrative powers.
He stressed that district commissioners (DCs) and chief executive officers are controlling officers at district and city or municipal council levels.
Said Chimwendo Banda: “We have issues of bureaucracy in councils, slowness of activities, lack of passion and dedication. We also have issues of political interference where we have councils’ secretariat and political leadership being at loggerheads.
“Politicians being involved in administrative matters poses a danger to the council, but at the same time, impedes on a quite number of issues. It can slow development and can lead to resource abuse.”
The minister’s sentiments come against the background that some councils fail to make decisions due to political interference.
In a separate interview, Chitipa DC MacMillan Magomero observed that councils’ independence from political interference is workable as long as controlling officers adhere to their professional standards.
“The number one thing is the character and the personality, these things make your office dignified. So when you combine the professionalism and the characters and also the personality, you would see that it [council independence] is very much workable,” he said.
During a similar meeting in Blantyre last week, the minister demanded efficiency from council officials and warned controlling officers that they risk being fired if they abuse resources and fail to perform.
He said it was appalling that abuse of resources continues to be rampant, leading to some councils failing to access development grants under the Governance to Enable Service Delivery (Gesd) project for more than two consecutive periods.
Gesd is a five-year $100 million (about K104 billion) World Bank-funded project facilitated by the National Local Government Finance Committee which aims at strengthening the capacity for local councils.
Councils access grants through the project’s funds to implement various development projects if their performance is satisfactory.
The quartery coomeetings seek to improve service delivery in councils attracted representatives from almost all district, city and municipal councils.