Believes service delivery would improve under autonomous local authorities
The newly elected Chairman of Kweneng District Council, Motlhophi Leo, holds that the time has come for government to seriously decentralise and devolve of powers to local authorities.
To that end, Leo – who replaced Jeffrey Sebisibi late last year as head of the Kweneng District Council – says Botswana should use some of her neighbours and other African countries for benchmarking. He argues that decentralisation and devolution of power to municipalities could stop the decline in service delivery around the country.
Leo says councils should become autonomous also to reduce their total financial dependence on the central government. Councils are under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. “In countries like Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Uganda, councils are autonomous,” Leo said in an interview with The Botswana Gazette this week.
“We need to carry out a study to guide us whether councils should have autonomy or not. If a majority of councils in this country want autonomy, we can propose that through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities. It must be noted that councils are not included in the constitution of the republic. I think we should push for councils to be included. We should take advantage when the constitution of the country is reviewed.”
The MP for Molepolole North, Oabile Regoeng, says he agrees with the idea of autonomy for councils and what that could do for service delivery but advises against rushing the process. “It is a great idea and I think it is also something that the new government should look into,” says the MP.
“President Mokgweetsi Masisi say in his last State of the Nation Address that his government intends to decentralise some of the powers to local authorities because programmes are crowded under the central government.”
“But we need to be careful when talking about giving councils independence or autonomy. We need to be certain that they have the right capacity and personnel to carry out such a big mandate. The government should conduct a proper and thorough research before it can carry out such an exercise. Yes, we want service delivery to improve, but this should be done in a right and proper manner.”
The new Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale, was unavailable to engage on the matter at the time of going to press.