Directorate Of Local Government Services

The Directorate is mandated to manage the Local Government system and provide primary support to councils so that they are able to deliver quality services, effectively coordinate all local development initiatives and implement demand-driven community development micro projects aimed at improving people's welfare at community level.

Currently, there are 35 Councils in Malawi whose functions the Section oversees and backstops. The Councils are as presented in the Table 1 below:

Table 1: Local Authorities in Malawi

Category Number Name
City 4 Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu
Municipality 3 Luchenza, Kasungu and Mangochi
District 28 Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay, Likoma, Mzimba, Kasungu, Dowa, Ntchisi, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe, Salima, Mchinji, Dedza, Ntcheu, Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka, Mwanza, Neno, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Zomba, Mulanje, Phalombe, Chikwawa, Nsanje and Thyolo

The Directorate of Local Government Services has two Sections:

1- Local Government Services Management Section

The purpose of the Section is to manage the Local Government System and provide primary support to councils so that they are able to deliver quality services. The Section coordinates all local development initiatives aimed at improving people's welfare at community level. This is done through the provision of advisory and quality assurance services to the councils and the provision of primary technical support to the councils in all matters of governance and council management. The Section has been implementing the following key activities:

(i) Local Authority Performance Assessments (LAPA): The Section coordinates LAPA which provides the basis for performance based grants. The LAPA is aimed at improving performance of councils by providing them with discretionary resources. The Section also supports least performing councils to improve their performance;

(ii) Development of by-laws: The Section supports the councils in the development of by-laws. Currently, the Section is developing guidelines for making by-laws to streamline the process;

(iii) Local Government Act: The Section is facilitating the review of the Local Government Act. A new layman’s Bill was drafted and submitted to the Ministry of Justice in August 2021 with new instruction; and

(iv) Establishment of Municipal Police Service in Malawi: The Section is leading the process of establishing the Municipal Police Service that will primarily focus on law enforcement in the local authorities. This will take off pressure from the Malawi Police Service which focuses on national issues and is constrained in terms of financial and human capacities.

2- Decentralisation Section

The Section oversees the implementation of the Decentralization Policy in close collaboration with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). The Section is undertaking the following:

(i) Review of the National Decentralisation Policy (NDP): The Ministry is reviewing the NDP. The draft revised Policy has been developed and has undergone stakeholders’ validation. The final draft Policy was recently vetted by the Principal Secretaries’ Committee on Public Sector Reforms, Public Service Management and the Economy. This has paved the way for final submission to OPC for Cabinet approval.

(ii) Devolution of Sectors: the section is facilitating devolution of sectors that are yet to devolve. These include Mining, Tourism, Energy, Industry, Information and Culture. The section is also engaging sectors that have not fully devolved, namely, Transport, Lands, Trade, Fisheries, Forestry and Local Government.

(iii) Asset Devolution: The Ministry has developed Asset Devolution Guidelines and have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for vetting. The Ministry has planned to collaborate with OPC to organise a PSs' Committee meeting to vet the guidelines before engagement of MDAs.