Thyolo Councilors Feel Robbed of their Roles

Some ward councilors in Thyolo claim the coming in of Personal Assistants (PAs) for Parliamentarians is threatening decentralization principles since they have taken over their roles in the administration of the Constituency Development Funds (CDF).

Makungwa ward Idrisa Gausi, Thava ward councilor Chiuta Elisha Chiuta and Khonjeni ward councilor Sandram Maulana told Zodiak Online on Monday that PA's coming almost rendered them useless in development.

They say though they do not attend full council and Area Development Committee (ADC) meetings as required, the assistants have taken over the oversight and implementation of the CDF projects.

"Our oversight and community voice from full council and Area Development Committee (ADC) meetings are not being considered during project implementation. We think in the long run, this will affect development in out areas," they said.

Previously, according to the 2014 revised CDF guidelines, among others the ward councilors were mandated to take part in identification and prioritization of projects with the MP, provide oversight to all the projects being implemented in the ward, something currently delegated to the PAs in the revised guidelines.

But one of the Parliamentarians for Thyolo North Ephraim Naija said, there is no problem in his area, though expressed the need to make councilors understand the job description of their assistants which is mostly to cover up the MP's absence.

"If you go through the Personal Assistants key roles and responsibilities, it's everything that the MP was doing with the councilors. So instead of overloading them with the responsibility, that is with the Personal Assistants. Our role now will be oversight," he said.

Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA) Executive Director Hadrod Mkandawire, said this was expected.

"We are not much surprised in the sense that this is what we envisaged when we initially opposed to this idea of bringing the Personal Assistants because the constitution drafters already handed over the role of coordinating all development work at local level to the councilors," he said.

Mkandawire added: "we are banking our hope on the interpretation of the court on the matter".

Ward councilors boycotted the presentation of the new guidelines by the Ministry of Local Government officials in some districts including Thyolo.

In Thyolo, some PAs started work in May this year.

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