Malawi 1994 Constitution (reviewed 2017)

Table of Contents


146. Local Government authorities

  1. There shall be local government authorities which shall have such powers as are vested in them by this Constitution and an Act of Parliament.
  2. Local government authorities shall be responsible for the representation of the people over whom they have jurisdiction, for their welfare and shall have responsibility for—
    1. the promotion of infrastructural and economic development, through the formulation and execution of local development plans and the encouragement of business enterprise;
    2. the presentation to central government authorities of local development plans and the promotion of the awareness of local issues to national government;
    3. the consolidation and promotion of local democratic institutions and democratic participation; and
    4. such other functions, including the registration of births and deaths and participation in the delivery of essential and local services, as may be prescribed by any Act of Parliament.
  3. Parliament shall, where possible, provide that issues of local policy and administration be decided on at local levels under the supervision of local government authorities.
  4. Parliament shall ensure that the composition of local government authorities includes a prescribed number of persons serving as Chiefs in the area of jurisdiction of such authorities and affords equal representation in respect of each ward within its jurisdiction, and that the boundaries of each ward shall be designated by the Electoral Commission in accordance with section 148.

147. Composition of local government authorities

  1. Local government authorities shall consist of local councillors who shall be elected by free, secret and equal suffrage by the registered voters in the area over which that local government authority is to have jurisdiction and the election shall be organized, conducted and supervised by the Electoral Commission.
  2. The offices of local government shall include mayors in cities and municipalities and local councillors in all areas and they shall have such functions, powers and responsibilities as shall be laid down by an Act of Parliament.
  3. There shall be, in respect of each local government authority, such administrative personnel, subordinate to local councillors, as shall be required to execute and administer the lawful resolutions and policies of those councillors.
  4. There shall be a Local Government Service Commission, the composition, functions, powers and procedures of which shall be provided for by an Act of Parliament.
  5. Local government elections shall take place every five years on a date to be determined by the President in consultation with the Electoral Commission:Provided that the local government authorities shall stand dissolved at the end of five years following an election.

148. Jurisdiction of local government authorities

  1. Subject to the recommendations of the Electoral Commission, and in accordance with the principles laid down in this Constitution and any other law relating to national elections, there shall be drawn boundaries for local government authorities.
  2. Any boundaries determining the territorial jurisdiction of any local government authority shall be geographical only, without reference to race, colour, tribe or ethnic origin of the inhabitants of the area.

149. National Local Government Finance Committee, its establishment, powers and functions

  1. There shall be a National Local Government Finance Committee which shall hear submissions from each and every local government authority in respect of estimates of expenditure and requests for special disbursements and shall have such other powers and functions as may be conferred on it by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
  2. The National Local Government Finance Committee shall have the power to—
    1. receive all estimates of revenue and all projected budgets of all local government authorities;
    2. examine and supervise accounts of local government authorities, in accordance with any Act of Parliament, subject to the recommendations of the Auditor General;
    3. make recommendations relating to the distribution of funds allocated to local government authorities, and vary the amount payable from time to time and area to area according to, and with sole consideration of, economic, geographic and demographic variables;
    4. prepare a consolidated budget for all local government authorities and estimates after consultation with the Treasury, which shall be presented to the National Assembly for information purposes by the Minister responsible for Local Government before the commencement of each financial year; and
    5. make application to that Minister for supplementary funds where necessary.

150. Duty to provide adequate resources for local government functions

The Government shall be under a duty to ensure that there is adequate provision of resources necessary for the proper exercise of local government functions and to this effect shall allow a local government authority to keep such proportion of the revenue collected by that authority as shall be prescribed by the National Local Government Finance Committee; and any surplus of the revenue shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund, unless otherwise provided by an Act of Parliament.

151. Composition of the National Local Government Finance Committee

  1. The members of the National Local Government Finance Committee shall be—
    1. one person who shall be nominated from time to time in that behalf by a caucus of local government authorities;
    2. the Principal Secretary for Local Government;
    3. one person who is a professionally qualified and practising accountant appointed by the Public Appointments Committee on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for Local Government;
    4. the Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission or such member of that Commission as shall be nominated by the Chairperson from time to time in that behalf;
    5. one person who shall be nominated from time to time in that behalf by the Electoral Commission; and
    6. the Principal Secretary responsible for finance or his or her senior representative.
  2. Except for persons who are or become members of the Local Government Finance Committee under subsection (1) (b), (d), (e), or (f), the term of office of a member of the National Local Government Finance Committee shall expire—
    1. three years after the date that member was first appointed; or
    2. on removal by the President on the recommendation of the Public Appointments Committee, but no member shall be recommended for removal under this paragraph unless the Public Appointments Committee is satisfied that he or she is—
      1. not competent to exercise the duties of that office;
      2. compromised to the extent that his or her financial probity is in serious question; or
      3. otherwise incapacitated.
  3. for the purposes of subsection (1) (a), the Minister responsible for Local Government shall convene a caucus of local government authorities within thirty days of the election of those authorities.