By Duncan Mlanjira
Blantyre City Councillors have petitioned the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development for the immediate removal/transfer of Chief Executive Officer/Controlling Officer, Dr. Alfred Chanza for his arrogance not to attend to their interests.
The petition, signed by 16 of the 18 Councillors, which we have in possession dated April 15, 2020, says Chanza is working in isolation and is single handedly running the Council without the Councillors’ or the political wing which is headed by the Mayor Wild Ndipo.
The Councillors allege that Chanza does not attend meetings for the Council including those that the Minister graces.
And what seems to have incensed the Councillors to come up with the decision to just have him transferred elsewhere is the Council’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) response, saying he has not consulted nor briefed the Councillors on how together they intend to deal with the pandemic.
“His Excellency the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika set the tone to fight against the disease,” says the petition addressed to the Ministry of Local Government’s Principal Secretary through the Mayor, Councillor Wild Ndipo.
“We are saddened that the Controlling Officer has been mum and does not want to appear before the Council Members to outline how we ought to address this pandemic.
“Our concern is that if the Controlling Officer is unable to work with the Council Members, it is much better that he be transferred,” says the petition.
The petition was copied to the Minister of Local Government, Ben Phiri — who is a member of the Special Cabinet Committee on COVID-19.
The Councillors also accuse Chanza of implementing permits at a fee without consulting the Council or the Finance Committee.
Signatures appearing on the petition are against the following names: Gertrude Lucy Edgar Chirambo, Eric Mofolo, Gerald Lipikwe, Thom Litta, Bosco Mateyu Banda, Msrezi Chinthuli, Joseph Batumeyo, Mary Kachale, Phillip Kameta, Jonas Kamwendo, Raphael Mzimu, Leonard Chimbanga, Emmanuel Matewere and Joyce Malunga.
Also appearing on the handwritten list of names are Councillors Uche Sellasie Yesaya and Jomo Osman but without signatures.
Of the 23 councilors for Blantyre City, 16 are from the DPP, four from UTM and three were voted in as independents.
Interestingly, since President Mutharika declared a State of National Disaster last month, communication from Blantyre City Council adding voice to some of the measures that should be done that were outlined was the Mayor Wild Ndipo himself and not from Chanza.
In a statement he signed after the President made the decree, Ndipo had urged everyone to join hands with the Council in the fight against the pandemic.
He also announced the placement of water stations for hand washing in all strategic points in all the 34 markets within the City and pleaded with all shops, offices and other service providers to follow suit.
Ndipo had also announced that Blantyre City Council has declared a month long ‘Make Your Environment Coronavirus Free Campaign’ to ensure that every resident is taking lead in abiding by the measures that have been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Furthermore, the Mayor appealed to street vendors to relocate to the designated markets and later enforced it with the collaboration of the police.
And he had warned that the Council would intensify inspection of all business premises, offices, shops, all residential areas and other public premises to make sure that all these initiatives are being followed.
He also had said failing to comply the Council shall use all available pieces of legislation to make sure that the set hygiene standards are complied with and residents are protected.
He asked all residents to utilise the toll free line (526) for any inquiries if there will be need for other measures to be implemented or those that need further information.
“This is the time for all residents of Blantyre City to join hands and protect the health of everyone,” stressed the Mayor. “Zero Coronavirus cases can be possible if we unite in the implementation of preventive measures.”
Was all this done just by himself and Chanza without the blessing of the other Councillors, was a question that begs an answer.