PAc HAS CALLED THE MEDIA TO SUPPORT

The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has called the media to support the decentralize drive to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of duty bearers and local authorities in the country.PAC Chairperson Reverend Dr Felix Chingota made the call when he officially opened a two-day training workshop on proposed Local Government Act amendments in Zomba on Monday.The training workshop aimed toprovide media practitioners with relevant information to ably advocate for the proposed Local Government Act amendments.Chingota observed that the 2010 Local Government Act has a number of anomalies which infringe the independence of local councils.He therefore said there is need to amend the Act in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the local authorities and to align the act with objectives of the decentralisation as stipulated in the decentralisation policy of1998.Chingota urged the media to always take stock of the Councillors and Members of Parliament so that they should be accountable to the electorates.“We want the media to help in educating the communities about the roles and duties of our Councillors and Members of Parliament. There seems to be a thin line in the separation of powers between Councillors and Members of Parliament.“Decentralisation is the transferof authority for decision making and implementation from the centre to lower level. Itis the duty of Councillors to consolidation infrastructure and economic development of our local government areas while MPs are not supposed to go beyond the boundary the central government.“This Bill seeks to amend LGA, Cap. 22:01 of the laws of Malawi to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities and to align the Act with objectives of decentralization as stipulated in the Decentralization Policy. 1998,” explained Chingota.According to the summary of Local Government Act amendments, the Bill has proposed to change titles”Chief Executive Officer” of a City or Town Council and”District Commissioner” of a District Council to “Town Clerk” and “Clerk of Council”, respectively.It also proposes to amend Section 4 of the Act to provide for the establishment of a national professional body, to be called the “National Local Government Upgrading Committee”, which will be mandated to make recommendations for upgrading the status of a local government area whenever required.The amendment bill further proposes to amend Section 6 of the Act to give Councils the function of making policy on local governance and development for the local government area.Clause 9 proposes to amend the Act by inserting a new Section 10A in order to provide for vacancy in the office of the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Council.While clause 10 seeks to place powers of appointing all persons holding the post Chief Executive Officer of a City, Municipal or Town Council or District Commissioner on the Local Government Service Commission shall be responsible with the approval of the Minister.The clause further proposes that the holders of the two offices should be appointed on fixed term contract instead of the current unfixed term contract and pensionable terms; to provide for the power of Local Government Service Commission to appoint persons holding a post of TownClerk or Clerk of Council, and toremove the powers of the Minister to transfer persons holding the post of Town Clerk, Clerk of Council or Director from one Council to another.It also seeks to amend Section 5 to provide for the ranks of thechiefs that will be representing Traditional Authorities as members of the Council; and toprovide for consideration of gender representation when appointing non-voting members of the Council to represent special interest groups.The Bill has also proposed to increase the term of office of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the District Councils from one year to two and half years renewable once, and to provide for the maximum terms of office that aperson can hold the said office.20161101064936

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