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Media Release
15/03/12
Media Release
Media Release

Ministry of Local Government

The Peoples Ministry


Wednesday 15th February 2012

Re: Consultations on the Local Government Bill

Following the Second Presidential Commission on Local Government Structure that was appointed in 2001 to review the effectiveness of the structure, organization, roles and responsibilities of Local Government institutions at all levels in Botswana, the Commission made a number of observations relating to local authorities and other institutions operating at the local level were made.

With particular reference to Councils, the Commission concluded that these bodies are not merely government service delivery institutions, or implementing agencies that are extensions of a national ministry but that they are the “second tier of government.” The Commission further noted that it is through Councils that the government can give meaningful effective service delivery and good governance, and secure full participation of local communities.

In light of the observations, the Commission recommended the strengthening of the legal position and identity of Councils to stimulate ownership, accountability, responsiveness and responsibility which would invariably strengthen their confidence in the discharge of their mandate.

The Commission further observed similarities in the detailof the Local Government (District Councils) Act CAP 40:01 and the Township Act CAP 40:02 and recommended the consolidation of the legal instruments governing local authoritiesinto one Local Government (Councils) Act.

Major changes to the current law as proposed in the Local Government Bill which seeks to create better local governance are:

1. To provide for the powers at Central Government level to be under one authority. The current Local Government (District Councils) Act gives powers to the President to establish and dissolve Councils, whereas the Township Act gives the same powers to the Minister. The Bill provides for these powers to rest with the Minister of Local Government;

2. Providing a legal basis for decentralization, devolving power to local authorities and enabling more influence, choice and greater opportunities for Local Authorities to run local affairs;

3. Advocating a stronger role for Local Authorities as institutions closer to the people;

4. Supporting the political representatives and enabling them to account to their constituents on their mandate as their representatives at Council; and

5. The Bill also seeks to introduce gender neutrality into the law in recognition of the fact that women too can become Chairpersons of Councils. This is in line with government’s decision to amend all Statues and render them gender neutral.

Consultations on the draft Bill started with the Leadership of Councils which include Mayors, Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Council, District Commissioners and the Botswana Association of Local Authorities. These were later extended to all individual Local Authorities. 

The Bill was tabled for first reading in Parliament on 25th March 2011. It was subsequently referred to Ntlo ya Dikgosi in accordance with the provisions of Section 88 (2) of the Constitution and in view of the pivotal role Bogosi plays in local governance and the fact that the Bill touches on issues of culture and tribal properties. 

The Bill was then presented for the Second reading to Parliament on the 12th July 2011 with Parliament adjourning debates on the Bill pending consultations with stakeholders. The critical debates on the Bill centered around the following key issues:

a) Floor crossing
b) Extending property rating to rural districts
c) Dissolution / Restructuring of Councils
d) Executive Mayoral functions; and
e) Declaration of financial interest.

To date the Ministry of Local Government has consulted 55 villages and 13 Councils around the country. Consultations are ongoing.

Thank you.

 


Tigele Mokobi
Principal Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Local Government
Tel:  (+267) 3658529
Fax: (+267) 3972023

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