The Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) said the lack of sufficient finances has been the root cause of slow developments in local authorities.
ALAN president and Lüderitz Chief Executive Officer Leonard Jona said although the body has not conducted any formal research on the development pace in local authorities, the current trend has seen most town councils developing faster compared to village councils, which are developing slower due financial and human resources’ constraints and a lack of investments.
“Local authorities are expected to carry out a number of functions related to development, social welfare and service delivery, among others. In all these instances, finances are needed and are very often limited, and therefore present real challenges to local governments delivering their mandate,” he noted.
Jona said the other key challenge for local authorities has been the legal framework which local authorities operate under.
ALAN has thus been part of a committee which is working on a substantive Local Government Reform Paper which highlights the challenges which local authorities are faced with.
In 2010, ALAN, in partnership with the Association of Regional Councils (ARC) and the Namibian Association for Local Authority Officers (NALAO) conducted research on efficient decentralisation coordination. “Despite the strong commitment of the Namibian government to decentralise and the legal provisions and Acts being in place, the decentralization process is progressing slowly,” he stated.
The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development (MURD) as the overall coordinator of the decentralisation process is faced with problems of the effective implementation of the decentralisation process. The MURD must thus influence other ministries, which leads to resistance in the form of delays because some of the ministries do not regard the instructions from the coordinator (MURD) to be imperative.
The research established that it should be mandatory for all decentralized ministries to provide for decentralisation in their budgets by including specific budget lines like regional consultation meetings, the training of staff and the procurement of equipment and accommodation for the envisaged functions to be decentralised.
On the issue of decentralisation, Tom Alweendo, Director-General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) said they have utilized the Local Authorities’ Act 1992, Regional Councils’ Act 1992, the Decentralization Enabling Act 2000 and the National Planning Commission Act, 2013 as guiding instruments in the planning process.
“Moreover, one of the NPC’s roles is to formulate short-term, medium-term and long-term national development plans, in consultation with regional councils,” he said.
Alweendo said through regional consultations, the NPC has played a significant role in the implementation of regional planning processes for the past few years.
“As NPC, we have been advocating to the line ministries to develop and submit Annual Sectoral Plans (ASEPs) to us, in line with the priority areas of NDP4, also insisting on the role of regional councils in the endorsement of the ASEPs. In the ASEPs, line ministries identify development programs and project proposals, which proposals are the basis for budget discussions with the Ministry of Finance. It is also important to note that these ASEPs are developed through the bottom-up approach to project planning since we are in an inclusive government,” he said.