LG: Despite being an important post in the local government, only a few who contested in the recent second local government elections were aware of a mangmi’s roles and responsibilities.
This was evident going by the vague pledges made by most of the mangmi candidates in gewogs like Bidung, Yangnyer and Phongmey in Trashigang during their common forums.
For instance, mangmi candidates in Bidung didn’t know what to deliver as their manifestos during the common forums.
Most were found saying that if elected, each would give their best to fulfil the pledges of their gup. “Since the mangmi is someone who supports the gup, there is little I can pledge as it is the gup who decides everything,” a mangmi candidate in Bidung said during a common forum. “Therefore, I would pledge to ardently support the gup in his pursuit to fulfill his pledges,” he added.
While most didn’t know what to pledge, a few were found overdoing it by making promises beyond a mangmi’s responsibilities. In Yangnyer, its mangmi candidates were found pledging to improve farm roads, drinking water supplies, irrigation channels and even corn flake machines.
Going by the local government Act only the gup has management and financial powers which includes planning, enforcement and monitoring of development activities, among others.
According to the Phongmey gup-elect, Palden Dorji, save for one candidate in Phongmey, most still had no clear understanding of a mangmi’s roles and responsibilities. He said this was an indication that the candidates failed to refer to the local government Act.
Palden Dorji, who once served as the Phongmey mangmi, said that while the mangmi has different roles and responsibilities, the major one is to be a Nang-kha-nang-dri (alternative dispute resolution). A mangmi mediates disputes that are civil in nature that tshogpas (village representative) forward to the gewog mediation committee.
Clause 69 of the local government Act states that the mangmi is the deputy chairperson of the gewog tshogde. As per section 295 of the Local Government Rules and Regulations, as deputy chairperson, the mangmi is to keep the public informed of the activities of the gewog tshogde through its members.
The mangmi shall also report to the gup incase of breach of public peace, law and order situation in the gewog. The mangmi also compiles and submits an annual population, house, land and livestock records to the dzongkhag not later than December 31 as per the rules and regulations.
“The mangmi is also supposed to prepare chadri (traditional ceremonial arrangements) during the visit of VIPs to the gewog,” Palden Dorji said.
While most of the mangmi candidates seemed to think that the role of the mangmi is to be the gup’s proxy at all times, this should occur only in the absence of the gup. But even when officiating, the mangmi’s powers are limited. They cannot make financial decisions.
One of the mangmi candidates from Phongmey, Wangdi from Yabrang however managed to prepare a manifesto. He was the only mangmi candidate in Phongmey to provide one.
While he did not win the seat, Wangdi, made around 10 different pledges in his manifesto after referring to the local government Act and getting feedback from village elders.
“Since there is an increasing need to maintain statistics with the changing times, one of my pledges was to strengthen record keeping in the gewog like the number of households, newborns and deaths, among others,” he said.
He also pledged to act a counter balance to the gup, in the event that the gup’s actions deviated from the larger interest of the people. “I also pledged to resolve civil cases related to land, census and tsamdro with minimal backlog,” he said.
While the manifesto may differ depending upon the candidate, it was felt that mangmi candidates must at least know the roles and responsibilities of a mangmi. “They should at least prepare their manifesto and pledge as per the functions, roles and powers mangmis have,” Palden Dorji said.