The Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) president, Mpho Moruakgomo, has expressed fears that the relocation of key functions, such as primary health care, sewerage, roads, district houses and the Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) scheme, from local to central government will in the future cripple the relevance of the district councils.
Addressing the fifth BALA national conference in Francistown, Moruakgomo said there is an urgent need for BALA to engage government on the issue.
“The centralization of these key functions by government is a cause of concern as it threatens the relevance and future of local government. I want to urge local authorities to turn this into an opportunity by re-focusing and excelling in those functions that still remain under their ambit,” he said.
The BALA president added that there is a need for reforms in local government to improve service delivery. He added that there is also a serious need to review the structural arrangements in local government as they are no longer in sync with present national and local needs.
He further said that there is need to embark on a turnaround strategy for local government so that it does not lose the trust and confidence from the people it serves.
On a different note, Moruakgomo said that despite the fact that there is an absence of a decentralization policy, the government should be congratulated for the achievements it made in some developments through decentralization.
“Through decentralized service delivery approach, Botswana enjoys a very high standard of services provision in education, health, water and sanitation, more than most citizens in other African countries. Local councils have managed to deliver basic services that are part of their responsibilities effectively despite challenges that exist,” he said.
Moruakgomo added that decentralization is very important as it contributes to development by empowering people and institutions at every level of society, including public, private and civic institutions.