FRANCISTOWN: Senior members of the Sowa Township Authority are clueless on the dissolution of the council pronounced by the former minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi last year.
The former Cabinet minister reached a point where she resolved to dissolve the Sowa Township Authority after a stand-off with the councillors over outstanding mileage allowances.
Venson-Moitoi’s decision to dissolve the council came about after Sowa Township councillors declined to attend council meetings demanding to be paid outstanding mileage allowances.
Sowa Township mayor, George Maphane acknowledged this week that as the council they are waiting with bated breaths for progress on the matter.
“The public was duly briefed at a Kgotla meeting last year about the impending former minister’s decision and now they demand for answers that we don’t have,” Maphane told Mmegi.
Despite their waiting, Maphane has however, said the matter has not drastically affected their performance.
“We continue serving the public, but a nagging issue is the confusion we have as the public demand answers from us,” Maphane said.
“They have the right to know since they were officially informed at a Kgotla meeting that action will be taken to dissolve the council,” he added.
The mayor is positive that the authorities will address the the community as the matter has now escalated to higher offices.
There has also been no official announcement on the status of the dissolution.
However, Maphane was optimistic that there will be a resolution to the matter soon as the newly appointed Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Frans Van Der Westhuizen was still acclimatising at his new office.
Sowa Township Authority senior public relations officer, Caiphus Gabana said to the best of his knowledge, the councillors were going about their normal duties without any disruption.
He however, acknowledged that, “naturally, as a human being when it has been announced that dissolution was on its way, it could affect councillors. I prefer that civic leaders speak for themselves on this matter.”
Gabana emphasised that the Nata/Gweta legislator whose constituency covers Sowa Town, recently told a Kgotla meeting in the township that Venson-Moitoi wanted to dissolve the council but given the fact that the general elections are around the corner, it was not possible to proceed with the dissolution.
At the time Venson-Moitoi reported that she was dissolving the council, she had also indicated a desire to set up a commission of inquiry to review, consider and report on the matter.
An expert in local governance issues has recently described the halting of the Sowa Township Authority dissolution as a populist stunt devoid of rationality.
“This is a shock to everyone who has been listening to the unfolding factionalism bedevilling the ruling party which manifests itself in government functioning and performance,” said University of Botswana (UB) lecturer in political and administrative studies, Adam Mfundisi in a recent interview.
The academic noted that the minister had boasted that the so-called councillors serve at her pleasure and therefore she had ultimate authority over them.
“Now, if she has somersaulted on her initial decision and processes, then her integrity should be in the mud. I suggest she was advised by the legal minds that her decision may be nullified in a court of law possibly that she had not given each councillor the right to be heard,” said Mfundisi.
“Politics of patronage is at play here, where people are rewarded with political positions based on political affiliations rather than patronage.”
Efforts to solicit comments from new Local Government minister, Frans Van Der Westhuizen hit a blank, as his mobile number was not available as he was said to be accompanying President Mokgweetsi Masisi who is addressing Kgotla meetings.
Deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry, Duke Masilo could not respond despite the short message service sent to him as per his demand.