The Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) has condemned the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for dissolving the Sowa Town local authority.
BLLAHWU, a trade union that organises workers in local authorities yesterday said that it is immensely disturbed by the dissolution of Sowa Town Council.
This week, it was reported that minister Venson-Moitoi on Wednesday started the process of dissolving Sowa Township Authority civic leaders as a corrective measure.
The councillors who will be affected by the dissolution include the township mayor, George Maphane, deputy mayor Otsile Mashona and councillors Botho Ntirang, Damien Thapa, Pearl Lekau, Olifant Mfa, Vuyo Yane and Sekobaneng Mosweu.
The union’s secretary general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa said that they have noted with concern the developments regarding the issue and are calling for decentralisation of government.
Motshegwa said that while there have been many other issues raised on the matter, the events are ill-fated and reflect the “feebleness and deficits of Botswana’s democracy”.
“They are revealing of the fragility of Local Government at the dominant power of Central Government. Botswana’s democracy is characterised by immense power centralised at upper level of Government, and Presidentialism where the President wields so much power with weak processes or avenues of accountability. This is an outdated pattern of democracy,” Motshegwa said.
He said that Botswana needs a two-tier system of central government and local government where power is dully decentralised and well managed.
“First and foremost, as a Trade Union we hold the view that Botswana needs a functional democracy that is in tandem with contemporary trends and best practices.
“In this matter that
Motshegwa stated that the current system means that District Councils exist at the mercy of Central Government even though they are establishments of an Act of Parliament.
He said this gives the minister sweeping powers to dissolve a government at local level.
He said that BLLAHWU had engaged the ministry a few years back on the decentralisation policy that should set the blueprint on how power needs to be decentralised to councils.
“The importance of decentralisation augurs well with principles of democracy in that Local Government has proximity to the people which gives them a better opportunity to address challenges and aspirations of the people.
As things stand, Councils can’t pursue desired developments as they are under-resourced because the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development always cuts their budgets.
This is worsened by the fact that the Act limits or restricts raising of funds by Councils.
The lack of financial independence impacts on development of areas and people at District level hence problems of challenges in water and sewage system, health education and other services,” he added.
The union is of the view that the existence of councils needs to be inscribed in the Constitution to give them constitutional leverage and protection from intrusion by the minister.