Local government executives should be bold and make executive developmental decisions and stop hiding behind central government- says Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) president Mpho Moruakgomo.
Speaking during the announcement of their new partnership with Barclays Bank of Botswana, BALA president said he is itching to see local government make more decisions that could lead to great developments. “Decisions used to be made at the central government level because of shortage of capacity but now local government is capacitated.” Moruakgomo said with the new taste of independence it is up to leaders within local government to make bold decisions that could help diversify the economy of various districts.
“Now is the opportunity to beef up the non mining sector as it directly is dependent on local government,” he said adding that people at the top should refrain from being scared of making bold decisions that will lead to multi million pula development projects. However Moruakgomo said the complete potential growth of local government is bound by their lack of full independence. He pointed out that the 16 entities of local government are totally different from one another; hence the solutions for the areas are not the same yet central government wants to run them the same.
“That should not be the case local government needs to be decentralised to enable growth,” he said adding that they are still in the process of coming up with an overarching decentralisation policy. He pointed out that local government is looking for ways that will enable diversification of resources through development of facilities that might generate income. “The idea is to move away from reliance on central government and diversify, for that to happen local government has to take risk and take charge.” For her part Assistant Minister of Local Government Botlogile Tshireletso said the newly amended Local Government Act has given local government powers to engage in any activity without any hindrance.
“The decision to find ways of doing business is now upon Mayors and Councilors,” she said adding that local government decisions cannot be questioned. The minister however pointed out that the main challenge that local government might be having is that it is not established within the constitution. Tshireletso also acknowledged that local government has not completely broken free from the bonds of central government. She pointed out that local government is not wrong to want independence, but they should first prove that they can stand on their own in order for the law to change.
“Some entities of local government are still fully dependent on the grant they receive from the ministry and they are in no state of standing on their own.” She however pointed out that as it stand councils now have the power to make decisions and they should do such without fear.