‘Pac not giving up on reforms’

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The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has vowed to continue fighting against Members of Parliament (MPs’) right to vote in councils despite its recent frustrations over governance reforms.

Pac Vice Chairperson, Osman Karim, has also challenged that, as long as Malawians continue being inactive on governance issues, poor governance would prevail in the country.

Karim raised the sentiments at Mponela during a community debate on Local Governance and Local Government Act Reforms.

“As Pac, we commit ourselves to pushing for reforms in Malawi. The very reason that most reforms were not tabled in 2017 gives us renewed energy to pursue them. There is no time limit to stop us from pushing for all reforms in Malawi for they do not belong to a specific period.

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“Just as they were important in 2017, they remain as such in the coming years. So, we will advance them till that day we see them passed. By His [God’s] grace, we shall indeed succeed,” he said.

Kar im said poor governance and the MPs’ voting powers at council level have led to a proliferation of governance and accountability issues at the local level.

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“One of them is the way Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is managed. There are reports from Pac volunteers, including from Dowa, that some constituencies created parallel structures in addition to the structures formed by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to be managing CDF. This has brought [about] conflicts between councillors and MPs, and also between structures formed by the ministry and parallel ones,” he said.

He said this is why the quasi-religious body has been conducting community debates to help them understand the right way and structures for the implementation of CDF.

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Karim said  his committee is convinced that implementation of Local Government Act Reforms would improve efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities and align the Act with objectives of decentr al isat ion and devolution of powers in democracy.

European Union (EU) Team Leader on Economic, Trade and Governance Section, Jose Navarro, said development partners are impressed with the level of engagement the community debates have brought between elected leaders and the electorate.

Navarro said EU remains committed to supporting Malawi’s efforts to entrench principles of good governance.

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