New Gaborone Mayor Haskins Nkayigwa has said that he wished the city council were autonomous so it could hire and fire city clerks and other municipal officers without government intervention.
Nkayigwa, of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was speaking after he and Florence Shagwa, of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), won elections held yesterday to fill the vacant posts of mayor and deputy mayor.
Addressing an impromptu press conference at the Gaborone Civic Centre, Nkayigwa said the status quo where local authorities are run by government is counter-productive. He said councils should be in a position to determine their budgets and even hire contractors to undertake development projects.
"But unfortunately we have a situation where most of the contractors doing projects in Gaborone are not Batswana. You will find that Asian contractors have taken all the jobs and this does not help in citizen empowerment," he said.
Nkayigwa also said that government has taken services like sewerage and clinics, adding that it might even come and get the schools.
"We want full powers so that we can account to the people. So that we can also take action, like hiring or firing an underperforming city clerk or any officer," he said.
He said that he and his deputy (Shagwa) would soon meet to draw a plan on how
"We will work hard to drive the implementation of projects like storm water drainage, and street lighting. The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture gave us funds to build five recreational parks, but the project has stalled. Only two have been built. We will ensure that the projects are implemented on time," he said.
Nkayigwa, who replaces Veronica Lesole of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who resigned, said the new leadership would root out corruption in the municipality, adding that they will join hands with the council management to tackle this vice.
For her part, Shagwa said their primary role is advocacy and ensuring that service delivery is done efficiently and on time, adding that they will do their best to do that.
The mayor won the elections after beating Rupert Hambira 18-14, whilst Shagwa got 18 and Eunice Mguni 15. The committees were also elected yesterday immediately after the deputy mayor's election.