African mayors present the State of decentralisation in their countries (1/2)

During the regional seminars organized by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A) in five regions of the continent (August to October 2015), National Associations of Local Authorities commented the State of decentralisation in their countries.  We start this series with West Africa, where Dakar (Senegal) hosted the regional seminar from 3 to 5 August 2015 and Southern Africa where Pretoria (South Africa) hosted the regional seminar from 17 to 19 August 2015.


West Africa 

Guinea: Dr Mamadou Dramé, President of National Association of Municipalities of Guinea and Mayor of Kindia considers the environment very favorable to decentralisation.  “We are at the level of the funding. At the beginning, we had the State’s grants, which is good, but this isn’t decentralisation.  Since this is a sharing between the central State and the base, it also means to be able to follow activities that are granted to local governments. We will call this the financing of decentralization. Today we are in this phase of the creation of the local development fund,” he said. Continuing, Dr. Dramé said: “very soon there will be local elections after we turn to regionalisation, then the High Council of the communities. Currently there are advances and our association is regarded today as a consultative body of the Government”. The full interview is available in French on our You Tube channel here

Togo: The law on decentralisation of local liberties was voted and even revised in Togo. Mr. Kassegne Adjonou, President of the Union of Municipalities of Togo and Mayor of Atakpamé, indicates that there is now the problem of “the effectiveness of funding transferred competencies. It comes to choose between partial decentralisation or total decentralisation. It is blocking. It’s been more than 10 years that Togo has not organized local elections”.  The video is available in French here

Burkina Faso: “We engaged the process since 1991 in Burkina Faso and currently we are in transition. Decentralisation has taken a hit since we are in a period of special delegation. Which means that these aren’t elected officials who run communities but still the crucial problem for the territorial communities of Burkina Faso is the transfer of resources, the transfer of expertise in human resources is made but the transfer of financial resources is not total”, says Damien Gampine, Chairperson of Special Delegation Municipalities of Burkina Faso.  The video is available in French here.


Southern Africa 

The decentralization process is in real progress in the Southern Africa region.  However, the transfer of financial resources is still the main point of stumbling.

Zambia: Samuel Munthali, President of Association of Local Authorities of Zambia and Ndola Mayor, considers that the decentralisation process is on track in his country. «We started the process of decentralisation with the deceased president (Micheal Sata). He tried to decentralise and transfer the functions of the central Government to local authorities.  At the coming of the new head of State, the decentralisation policy has been revised. In January 2015, 7 functions have been devolved to local authorities. So we are moving in the right direction with the aim that by 2017 all functions that are supposed to be transferred from central Government to local government are actually handed over into the hands of local authorities”. Among the seven functions or areas affected by the transfer of power are primary health care, primary education, agriculture and community development. “What worries us is the fact that we need more resources than we currently have to help local authorities to be successful against the expectations of the populations,” said Samuel Munthali. The video is available here.

Botswana: “The Botswana is decentralised but not in the delegation of powers which is the great goal that we are aiming for. For 48 years of independence, there is a partial decentralisation. Now we want a total decentralisation policy. Decentralisation is the key because we believe that people are the agents of their own development. With decentralisation, we give them political, financial power to develop independently without waiting for the help of the central Government”, explains Reverend Mpho Moruakgomo, President of Association of Local Authorities of Botswana. The video is available here.

Namibia: The Deputy Mayor of the City of Windhoek, Hon. Gerson Kamatuka summarizes the process of decentralisation in Namibia. “Since the independence of Namibia, the decentralisation policy was adopted.  Because we were a unitary State, the Government has realised that a share of power should be given to the regions, to the local authorities. It is a reality in the sector of health, of education. In any country and any institution, the decentralisation is not easy, the sharing of financial resources is the most difficult.  It is impeding our progress. It is the control of financial resources that must be put in place. Other areas of competencies are transferred to Local Authorities. Sanitation, education are decentralised, but the question is whether these communities are ready to do so? Some cities in some areas are ready, but not all,” said Hon. Gerson Kamatuka. The video is available here.

Ziwbabwe: “Decentralisation is doing well in Zimbabwe, we have Council that easily adopt new ideas. The financial aspect is the most complex. The protection of the environment is also a challenge. We don’t have enough of policy in this area”, informs David Guy Mutasa. The video is available here.

Malawi: “We spent several years without a Council. Exactly 9 years. Local Governments are now on foot. The system is corrupt and we have much to do. The priority is to intensify advocacy campaign in the system of local government in our country. Multiply the laws. We need to have enough resources, we need permanent infrastructure”, says Samsung Chaziya, Chairman of Association of Local Authorities of Malawi. The video is available here.

Mozambique: “In our country the decentralisation is in progress because when we established the municipalities in 1998, we had only 33 municipalities. Now, we have 53 municipalities including 10 mandated. I think that people are in agreement with this model of governance. We can see that development in these cities is in progress and the populations involved. We seek the ways and means to enhance development,” declare Maria Helena Langa, Vice-President of Association of Municipalities of Mozambique and Mayor of Mandlakazi. The video is available here.