The Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) has backed Blantyre City Mayor Wild Ndipo’s third term bid, saying the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development already cleared him on the matter.
But the ministry’s spokesperson Anjoya Mwanza said on Tuesday they never gave any direction on the matter.
He said: We never gave any direction on that matter. Blantyre City Council has a legal department capable of providing an opinion. That is what we followed after getting advice from the Attorney General.”
When contacted separately, Blantyre City Council spokesperson Deborah Luka said she needed more time to consult on the matter.
Malga executive director Hadrod Mkandawire said in an interview on Friday that he was aware of concerns some Blantyre City residents raised at a press briefing on that Ndipo’s third term bid.
He said: “The concerns raised by the residents were already dealt with by the Ministry of Local Government.
“The direction from the Ministry of Local Government is that both the incumbent mayor and deputy mayor are eligible to contest.”
Mkandawire said Malga will follow the ministry’s direction by allowing Ndipo to contest since he was declared eligible.
He added that so far Malga has not received any complaint from Blantyre City Council members regarding the ministry’s direction on Ndipo’s eligibility.
Mkandawire, a lawyer by profession, said since the mandate to provide guidance and direction on such matters rests with the ministry as a policy holder, Malga will, therefore, respect its direction on the matter.
But speaking earlier at the press briefing, the concerned residents argued that Ndipo’s third term bid contradicts the Local Government Act.
In an interview after the press briefing, one of the city’s concerned residents, John Kadam’manja Mbewe, urged Ndipo to withdraw from the contest as his actions are inconsistent with the Act.
“According to the Local Government Act, a mayor and deputy mayor are supposed to serve for only two terms. There is no third term [in the Act]. So, it is clear Ndipo’s third term bid is in contravention of the law.”
Mbewe, who is Mapanga Ward Area Development Committee secretary, said if Ndipo insists on contesting, they will obtain an injunction so that courts help them to interpret the Act.
In a separate interview, another concerned resident Charles Banda said they were surprised that Ndipo and deputy major Joseph Makwinja are seeking re-election when the law bars them from doing so.
Section 7 (4) of the Local Government Act stipulates that both the mayor and deputy mayor, who are referred to as chairman and vice-chairman, must only serve a two-and-a-half-year term.
Reads part of the Act: “The chairman and vice-chairman shall each serve in their respective capacities for a period of one year unless sooner replaced, and shall be eligible to be re-elected for one additional term.
“But so, however, that in the case of a city council or a municipal council, the chairman and vice-chairman shall serve for a period of two and a half years unless sooner replaced and shall be eligible to be re-elected for one additional term.”
Ndipo, who is also Malga president, told The Nation of January 11 2021 that once re-elected, he will continue with his development agenda for the city.
Apart from Ndipo and Makwinja, Namalimwe Ward councillor Gertrude Chirambo and Limbe Central Ward councillor Gerald Lipikwe have also shown interest to contest for the mayoral position. The four are Democratic Progressive Party ward councillors.
In January 2017, Ndipo won his first term after beating former mayor Noel Chalamanda. He was re-elected for a second term on July 19 2019.
Blantyre City Council is expected to hold mayoral elections this Wednesday.