Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Chilinde 1 Ward Councillor, Juliana Kaduya is Mayor of Lilongwe City, the first female elected in the city.
However, she follows in the footsteps of first female mayor elected in Zomba city the late Joana Ntaja and her successor Melia Likoswe Douglas.
Lilongwe City is the largest of the three main cities, including Blantyre and Mzuzu.
It is home to 989 318 residents followed by Blantyre with 800 264, trailed by Mzuzu city which is home to 221 272 residents as recorded in the 2018 Malawi Population and Housing Census.
Kaduya won the city’s executive position in a tight race with 13 votes against Richard Banda who got 12 votes.
She is set to represent the people and lead in the city’s developmental projects for the next two and a half years.
Part 2, section (7) subsection 2 and 3 of the Local Government Act provides the functions of Mayor who is also reffered to as chairperson of council as a head of coucil. (3) provides that chairperson or mayor shall be responsible for the observance of the provisions of the Act.
Which among others are councils’ promotion of infrastructural and economic development, through the formulation and execution of district development plans within its jurisdiction;
The maintainance of peace and security in the local government area, in conjuction with Malawi Police Service; The consolidation and promotion of local democratic institutions and democratic participation; and Such other functions, including the registration of birth and deaths and participation in the delivery of essential and local services.
“As the first female mayor for Lilongwe city, I want to deliver, I want people to appreciate that women can,” says Kaduya.
She was born in 1979 the last born in a family of fifteen children of whom four are still living. Kaduya was raised by her sister after losing her mother at birth.
“My sister was my mother, she raised me as her own child. I called her mother, I did not know until later that she was not my mother,” she says.
After her primary and secondary education, she went to Domasi Teachers College where she got her Diploma in teaching.
She then taught at various primary schools, including Mount Sinai schools.
“Being a teacher is a calling.” Kaduya says she considered teaching her service to the community.
Having seen major setbacks in her community, such as lack of and poorly constructed bridges and poor infrastructure. She became motivated to try to serve in another capacity as councillor.
She says the areas in the communities needed drainage systems, with the various streams and rivers-crossing was a problem. She cites a bridge in her ward that needed concrete, carters for four wards, she says at the time it was all wood, and rotting.
Thinly located tap waters in a few households, she says also pushed her to contest as a councillor. Most people had to draw water from dirty sources. They were paying an exorbitant amount just for a bucket of tap water.
She won as councillor for Chilinde 1 in 2014, and was elected deputy mayor, then under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
To Juliana politics, just as teaching is a calling. A journey that begins from primary elections to the main elections.
The most outstanding obstacle she says is finances. “You need cash.”
“This journey is not as easy as it seems or the way some may think.” She says, though the Political Parties Act forbids handouts, one cannot run the wheels of politics without resources.
The need for materials and other provisions such as water and even ferrying those that are helping you to places are all aspects that need money.
Being a communicator, she says is key and being passionate about what one is standing for, has been a good leverage for her success.
Looking back, her journey from first election as councillor of Chilinde 1 ward to deputy Mayor of the city, Kaduya lists the Kamuzu institute road as one of the city’s developments that began under her watch. A new hospital that is nearly complete, is another, where she hopes the tar marc road can extend to the hospital for easy access.
“We have plans, we will die, and our children will find them. When you are a leader in council, it is you who lobby for development and not pay for development,” she quotes her job description.
In her position as mayor and as leader of fellow councillors Kaduya hopes to propel the city’s developments.
Apart from working with fellow councillors, Kaduya says the citizenry also have a role to play in developing the city.
Private companies, the public sector, she says have to be involved in planning and carying out city developments.
“They must have a vision of how they want their industrial areas to look like,” she says. “We shouldn’t put ideas in people’s minds, but their ideas.” On most pressing issues in the city at the moment, Kaduya says there’s garbage all over- sanitation is the biggest problem.
“People are just building and littering anyhow, the city does not look good,” she explains that structures that do not follow city plans are similar to garbage. They make the city look unclean. Sanitation, Kaduya explains does not only begin and end with managing waste products, but also well constructed infrastructure that follows city specifications.
As custodians of infrastructural and other developments, Kaduya says that every site in the city has its unique development plans-specific building requirements. She says clean cities will only be built if plans are followed.
Apart from ensuring clean cities, Kaduya hopes to lobby for street lights and engage with the residents on a personal capacity to light up the streets with security lights and enhance their security. Which she says the people cannot do without.
One of the councillors who voted for Kaduya into the position of mayor, Ruth Chingwalu of Mtandire ward, says she has confidence in Kaduya, whom she hopes can do more to lead in the development of the city, owing to her former experience as deputy mayor.
On her move from DPP to MCP, Kaduya was grateful to DPP members who supported her and voted her into office. She says, she switched because she was not comfortable. “You don’t write a letter to join a party it’s a matter of choice.” Kaduya says she chose MCP due to its values and vision, among the many parties that are available.