Experts Back Holding of Full Council Meeting Amid Parliament Sitting

Lilongwe city councilors in one of their meetings Lilongwe city councilors in one of their meetings

Experts have said there is nothing wrong with councilors holding full council meetings, when Parliament is in session, arguing the role of ward councilors and lawmakers in the development of the country are different.

Legal expert John Gift Mwakhwawa and Governance expert Victor Chipofya were reacting to Parliament’s stand that it is out of order for local councils to hold full council meetings while Parliament is in session.

Mwakhwawa told us he finds nothing illegal with the councilors conduct.

Said Mwakhwawa, “there is nothing unlawful about councils holding meetings while Parliament is in session. Waiting for MPs would delay councils’ development agenda.”

However, he said it would be right that MPs are available for full council meetings to give their contributions.

“…but it may be courteous that Parliamentarians be available for those meetings because they may have access to funding and also may have an interest in the development agenda of the council.”

A governance analyst Victor Chipofya, concurred with Mwakhwawa on the legality of councils holding meetings in the absence of law makers. In fact, he said, that should be encouraged.

Chipofya, however, said all this is coming because MPs consider councilors as their rivals.

“It would be important for us to understand what the law says. Members of Parliament make laws while Councilors implement different development activities.

However, in Malawi there is competition between MPs and Councilors such that the MPs feel threatened by councilors who are closer to the people and can easily take over.”

On Friday, Speaker of Parliament Catherin Gotani Hara condemned some local councils for conducting full council meetings while Parliament is in session. She said the action undermines the authority of Parliament.

Minister of Local Government Richard Chimwendo Banda also described the development as a big anomaly and vowed to take action.

The matter was brought in the house by Machinga East Constituency law maker Esther Jolobala who raised concern that councilors in Machinga were holding a full council meeting without MPs who are also members of the council. The concern was echoed by many other MPs.

Meanwhile Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) Executive Director Hadrod Mkandawire told us councils should be allowed to operate independently for the country to develop.

“We cannot hold the business of local government authority at ransom simply because Members of Parliament are attending to other equally important national business.,” said Mkandawire.

During the full council meeting, Machinga District Council approved a budget for the 2023/2024 financial year pegged at K18.64 billion.

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Last modified on Monday, 27/02/2023

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