A Township Government is a Citizen Government. Townships were the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson and were created before Michigan became a state. Andrew Jackson’s philosophy of direct democracy further shaped the township government structure that serves and thrives today.
Townships embody the values of “grass roots government.” In townships, citizens contribute their talents, skills and ideas to preserve the quality of life and to deliver important programs and services.
Limited by law in the amount of taxes they can levy, township officials are creative in delivering quality services with the least possible burden to taxpayers.
Townships are expected to be more efficient, effective, accountable, and accessible and they embody great democratic principles
A township government ensures that the community’s health and safety needs are adequately addressed. Either through its own police, fire and emergency medical services departments or in cooperation with other government and private organizations, townships have evolved as the primary provider for essential public safety services.
Balancing private property rights and the impact on the community resulting from land use decisions is a very important township responsibility.
Township governments also make com munities more pleasant places to live by providing leisure and recreational activities.
The elected members of the township in this case, councilors, adopt an annual budget that determines the scope and character of township services. They also adopt ordinances to protect the community’s health, safety and welfare as well as oversee township programs and services.
In a township, the Township Treasurer collects property taxes (rates) for the township, schools, the country and other tax levying entities and invests surplus funds. Board members also perform other duties as directed by the township board.
The Botswana local government Act only allows urban municipalities to collect property rates while it does not allow same for rural councils. This therefore means that district councils have very limited revenue generation avenues as compared to towns and city councils. It means that district councils depend entirely on support grants from central government.
This therefore in turn limits innovation by local authorities to operate effectively, efficiently, accountably and being easily accessible.
Mogoditshane besides bordering with the capital city, Gaborone, it is also classified as a principal town with a population of approximately 62 000 people. It also boasts of major commercial and industrial undertakings that describe the economic activity within it. It is also a cosmopolitan and a residence of people from all walks of life, different tribes and ethnicities.
Mogoditshane can be said to be the Soweto of Botswana as it supports the capital city of Gaborone, just as Soweto supports Johannesburg.
The level of economic activity in Mogoditshane would benefit the community, village and associated localities (Gabane, Mmopane and Metsimotlhabe) more if it was converted into a township. This would allow the new administration to collect rates from the vast commercial and industrial pool in the area. It would result in the generation of revenue that will help improve on services such as street lights, storms water drainages, efficient garbage collection, maintenance of roads and many other important services for
the community. This will then result in improved quality of life.
A number of townships have been created in the country, the most recent being Kasane Township, to allow such areas to use their comparative advantages to effectively and efficiently provide services to their communities.
Let us also have a Mogoditshane Townsahip for an effective and efficient service delivery for the population of this place.
(Banks Ndebele is the Deputy Chairperson for Mogoditshane-Thamaga
Sub-District. He is writing in his personal capacity).