Botswana: Draft Policy Receives Support

Jwaneng — Jwaneng councillors have unanimously supported the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development's proposal to decenralise its services to local authorities.

Presenting the proposed national decentralisation policy in Jwaneng Tuesday, the minister, Mr Eric Molale, said it was meant to unite the nation not to destabilise established tribal territories.

He said destabilisation fears might arise in instances where a district's jurisdiction straddled tribal territories but that would not mean that one was superior to the other.

"We already have instances like the South East District, the Southern District as well as the Ngamiland before the establishment of the Chobe District and such has never seen any friction between tribal territories," he said.

Mr Molale stated that the only motive of the proposed policy was to ensure that services were brought closer to Batswana "easier and faster and nothing else".

He said the policy would help upgrade the government service delivery system from ineffective to effective, devolved and closer to the people by improving transparency and accountability.

"Government intends that by the end of 2022 there will be a fully operational decentralisation coordination and implementation structure, with a reform strategy and roll out plan completed and endorsed," he said.

Minister Molale said the proposal sought to empower local governments as key drivers of good governance, sustainable and responsive service delivery as well as to define the status, roles, structures and relationships of different levels of government.

He said it also sought to enhance coordination by aligning activities of different central and local government actors, development partners and other stakeholders in service delivery and local development.

"We also seek to promote and sustain the preservation of national values, identity and unity by re-defining the roles and position of Bogosi and empowering them to function effectively and harmoniously with other institutions in a decentralised governance dispensation," he said.

Mr Molale also indicated that after consulting the councils, he would consult other entities such as Ntlo ya Dikgosi and cabinet before presenting the draft to Parliament for approval.

He said councillors were being engaged so they could be informed and help explain the intended policy to the community.

In their response, councillors expressed support for the proposal saying Batswana had been thirsty for such a change as it would help them access services without having to travel long distances.

In her welcome remarks, the mayor, Ms Olga Ditsie said the proposal was timely, especially in the era of COVID-19.

She said the current system posed challenges in terms of management citing the education sector which straddled local and central government departments.

At local government level, it was easier to undertake projects such as maintenance works as decision making was already decentralised, Ms Ditsie said.

Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP Mr Mephato Reatile allayed fears about the proposal causing tribal conflicts saying it only sought to amend the Local Government Act and not the Tribal Territories Act.

Source : BOPA

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