The parties or groups should not blow their trumpets or crow from their ‘house’ tops about their victories at the recent Local Government Elections. The low voter turn-out is a message to the parties/groups, and it is not a dress-rehearsal for 2020.
Where applicable, the increased number of seats should be examined in light of the decreased number of voters.
However, the allocation of seats in the various towns and villages should be regarded as an opportunity to share the plums of office for the genuine development of the communities. It must not be seen as “who ‘pon top’”.
Shared governance is particularly necessary in the cases where there is equality in the allocation of seats. We do not want a tug-o-war at the election for Chairman/Deputy Chairman. There must not be a prolonged stalemate, requiring the questionable intervention of the Ministry of Communities.
Further, it must not be perceived that the accession to the control of the Local Government organ is the opportunity to reward family and friends and contacts, and to help ourselves. It is not the chance to manipulate the award of contracts and to arrange the acquisition of lots/properties unoccupied for years or decades and with taxes unpaid, because the lawful owners are dead or overseas or cannot be found.
This is the opportunity where the seats are equal for statesmen, not politicians, to step up to the table and agree that in the first year the party/group with the most votes gets the chairmanship and the next party/group takes the post of Deputy. The following year, the positions will be reversed, and so on.
Furthermore, the headship of various committees, like Finance, Works, Markets, etc., could be rotated in order to reduce the opportunity for corruption, since your deeds could be examined and exposed in the following year.
Also, there would be councillors in place to question the work and the reports of officers of the council in order to find out how well or how badly the Town Clerks or Engineers or Overseers or Accountants or Public Health Inspectors are discharging their duties, in the district.
Editor, we also need visits by officers from the Auditor General to check on the system of the awarding of contracts so as to reduce the manipulation of the process from the stage of advertisement to the stage of award.
We also need some regular ‘town hall’ or ‘town house’ meetings, so that councillors can report and be questioned on their stewardship. We must not wait until the next LGE to see councillors at our front door. We need to see physical signs of development and of improvement in our communities.
Lastly, Editor, in the councils of local government organs, it must not be a case of government and opposition¸ as happens in Parliament. There is need for co-operation and shared governance NOW.
Walter B. Alexander.
(Retired Deputy Permanent Secretary)
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