- Lesotho's Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili holds that several "ills" prevailing in the country, including "fraud" and "inefficient public service" will be eased by the introduction of local government. To make sure this major reform is successful, Maseru yesterday introduced a "local government training manual" to stakeholders.
Lesotho's government in a press release issued today said it had "identified a number of public services that will be administered and run at the local government level, providing the public officials and infrastructure for their successful operation." This was announced by Prime Minister Mosisili yesterday.
- This will be followed by an orderly devolution to local government councils, of services and power to allow them to control the administration of affairs they should be running for themselves, the statement said.
The Prime Minister yesterday supervised the launching and adoption of a Local Government training manual in Maseru and made no effort to hide current problems. "In many instances, local government has been found to be the answer to a lax, inefficient public service, fraud, unemployment and a host of other ills," Mr Mosisili said.
The document presented by the Prime Minister had been adopted as an official policy document "to help guide and systematise workshops aimed at teaching Basotho about local governance." The training manual was to assist Basotho in their "ability to participate in affairs that affect them at the local level, prioritising local needs according to their importance and magnitude."
The Basotho have not, in all the 38 years of their country's independence, been able to have the opportunity to elect in a free and transparent manner, local government councils made up of members of their own choice as voters.
It had however "been the intention of government, since the return to democracy in 1993, to reverse this state of affairs and reintroduce local government," according to the Maseru government. Local democracy was in place prior to independence in the form of the district councils.
As part of initial preparations, the Ministry of Local Government was formed in 1994 which, after consulting with the people, released a White Paper on Local Government. The Local Government Act of 1997 and the Local Government Elections Act of 1998 were passed through Parliament, the latter giving the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) powers to run the local government elections.
Government had intended for these elections to be held at the same time as the general elections of 1998, "however it became apparent that the logistics would not be easy for the IEC," the statement says. The unsavoury occurrences after the 1998 elections further put paid to any attempts to continue the process. "The time is now right," the Prime Minister however said.
- Although local government should not be taken as the panacea of all social ills, the direct participation of the nation in the solution of problems it faces ensures drastic change in a short time, Mr Mosisili concluded.
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