Tuesday, September 26, 2023

NWDC moves to protect its heads

The North West District Council (NWDC) has amended its standing orders to protect the Council Chairman against being ousted through a motion of no confidence. The changes which are in line with amendments to the Act governing local authorities in Botswana took effect last week at the commencement of their full council meeting.
Council standing orders are rules made by council in accordance with section 62 of the Local Government Act of 2012, and meant to regulate, govern and guide council in the discharge of its business. According to NWDC attorney Farida Salim, the amendments were made following a recommendation from the Maun Administrative Authority (MAA) – a subsidiary of the NWDC to revise them, after they were deemed by members to be outdated. She said proceeding with old standing orders after the recommendation would have been a serious violation of the law as all activities should be aligned with the laws of Botswana.
Giving background information on the amendments, Salim explained that there had also been a lot of internal strife at most councils countrywide, particularly Selibe-Phikwe and Francistown. Although the main council (NWDC) has to date survived the backbiting, the MAA Sub Council was not spared, as a motion of no confidence was passed on its former chairperson Pelokgale Monyame (then a ruling party member).Monyame was impeached after defecting to Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).The Act now stipulates that the elected chairperson and his/her deputy shall occupy office for a period of two and a half years. Section 20 (2) of the Local Government Act 2012 states that: The chairperson shall, unless he/she resigns or ceases to be qualified or becomes disqualified continue in the office until his/her successor is elected and assumes office. Section 20 (11) further states that the Council chairperson or Deputy chairperson shall vacate his/her office if he/she is removed from office by resolution of the council Subordinate Authority by a vote of no less than two thirds of all members.
With reference to dress code, Nominated councilor Gaomodimo Ridge stood up for female councilors and female council attendants who were in the past excluded from wearing pants. She said the move was so unfair to women folk, most of who are always made to feel uncomfortable by their male counterparts. Male councilors have always complained that some women tempt them with their revealing clothes, particularly tight pants and skirts. They therefore requested that women should be barred from wearing pants at council meetings. “We all know and fully understand that council strongly advocates for formal dressing, and so I personally feel barring women from wearing pants at council meetings is unwarranted. Formal suits can include pants, and I believe you have observed that some women look smart in those suits. Let us be gender sensitive, let women feel comfortable around you, and let them not feel threatened whenever they enter this place because by so doing they might feel detached “said councilor Ridge, amid enormous support from members of the house.
North West District Deputy Council Secretary Motlogelwa Thuso said there were a lot of considerations prior to the amendment, and that existing government documents were also looked into, so as to ascertain if they are in line with the New Local Government Act. He said standing orders are meant to safeguard the integrity of the council, which therefore means their abuse might in a way contradict the provision of the Act. He however differed with councilors who demanded that there be a systematic enlightenment on the usage of the council chairman’s official vehicle. Councilors had claimed during the deliberations that the vehicle was most often seen around doing errands which they feel are out of the jurisdiction of council, and at times ferrying other council and or government officials other than the council chairman.
Regarding the council chairman’s vehicle, the Deputy CS said councilors should understand that as a matter of respect, the vehicle is specifically meant to be used by the chairman and no one else, even though he can, at his own discretion decide to loan it to other members. “You also need to understand that some things are purely administrative and therefore cannot be discussed in a forum like this one.”.


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