Gaborone City Council (GCC) mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa, has accused the central government of sabotaging him and disregarding by-laws that were tabled by his council as far back as 2012. Addressing the media yesterday, Nkaigwa said under his tenure, the GCC presented progressive bye-laws that were meant to enhance service delivery in 2012, but to date the Ministry of Local Government has failed to approve even one by-law.
“This is very disappointing. I have tried to engage the President, the Attorney General and ministry officials to no avail. Clearly they don’t want the council to succeed under my tenure. I am now denied access to the Office of the President,” he said.
Nkaigwa is hugely frustrated by lack of autonomy of local authorities. He lamented the current scenario where council secretaries and town clerks are more powerful than mayors and called for mayors to be given executive powers, saying technocrats cannot be more powerful than elected representatives.
“Whenever there is a problem the people look at the mayor and the councillors. They hold the people that they elected accountable. They want answers from us when in fact we are just ceremonial figures,” he said.
He added: “Our system creates mayors who are not empowered by structures of governance. We have mayors who are just ceremonial, who cannot act on the mandate of their communities.”
He further said it is a challenge for mayors to run councils when they don’t have authority to control the budget allocated to them. He laid the blame for the failure of councils on the obtaining situation, saying councils have failed to address the needs of their electorates because they lack authority. He added that as mayor of Gaborone he has no say in the way the council is run because he receives directives from the Office of the President and the Minister.
“I really don’t have input on the way the council is run. The resolutions made by council are just a waste of time because management is not bound to implement any of them,” said Nkagiwa.
He said he has no powers to bring the city clerk to book if he fails to implement council resolutions. He further revealed that the GCC is swimming in debt because of directives from the office of the President and the ministry, such that all the funds allocated to the council dry up as soon as they are credited. He added that the GCC has been broke and unable to pay salaries since January, simply because the central government issued instructions for the council’s funds to be used for something that was not budgeted for. Reached for comment, Minister of Local Government Peter Siele said he does not know what Nkagiwa is talking about.
“I am going to call him so he can explain to me,” he said.