Corruption is a phenomenon that affects different levels of governance: international, national, regional and local. The fight against this phenomenon requires the involvement of different types of stakeholders; first and foremost the leaders of local and regional governments.
In Mali, the year 2018 witnessed the launch of the first edition of the transparency Prize Award of the Accountable Local Governance Program, PGLR (Programme Gouvernance Locale Redevable). Three local governments were received awards in April 2018: These were Ouenkoro Local Government, 1st (Mopti region), with Mayor Cheick Harouna Sanakre; Dialassagou Local Government, 2nd (Mopti region), with Mayor Harouna Guindo and Pelengana Local Government 3rd, (Segou Region), headed by Ms Diabaté Mamou Bamba.
Of the 90 local governments that competed for the Award, Pelangana was the only one headed by a woman. The re-elected Mayor (2016 -2nd term), Ms. Diabaté Mamou Bamba, has become accustomed to conducting participative management within her local government. The PGLR’s transparency contest served as a showcase for the local elected official to receive recognition from her peers.
This does not mean that you will witness Madam Mayor ‘braiding the laurels’. Reserved and attentive, Ms. Diabaté lets her actions speak for her. At the UCLG Africa regional strategic meeting for the West Africa region (May 29-30, 2018 – Accra, Ghana), the Executive Director of the Association of Municipalities of Mali (AMM), Mr. Youssouf DIAKITE, shared the good news of her rise to power with the participants.
The President of AMM, Mr. Babacar Ba was also very proud of his colleague stating: “She will share brilliantly her experience with you.”
Speaking with sincerity and confidence, this is a woman who knows her subject. Scarf knotted at the front, Madam Mayor gave the details of the implementation of the Support Program for Decentralization and State Reform (PADRE) in her community.
“This program has six thrusts. A community resource mobilization action plan must be developed. This plan is made by involving the various stakeholders of the local government: members of the civil society, village chiefs, women, tax services, public revenue services, young people,” she explained.
The second thrust consists of conducting a census of the tax base with the same stakeholders. The census will be carried out using software. Following this there will be a distribution of individual tax notices to everyone after which, people will need to agree on a date to meet during the citizen’s day. “During this day everyone is forced to come and pay. The influential people namely, the mayors, the prefects come to pay in front of the other inhabitants of the village. They show thus the good example and the people take it seriously.”
The Pelengana rural local government, located in the Ségou region has nearly 56,269 inhabitants (2009). The tax review is conducted on a quarterly basis. This review represents thrust 5 of the program. This action takes place each quarter and consists in convening the different stakeholders and drawing up the inventory of tax collection. It is an opportunity to ask the village chiefs about the difficulties they encounter for the payment of taxes. “When a village head exposes his difficulties, together we reflect on what we can do and we come up with a solution,” she said.
The culmination of the process is the public feedback session during the third quarter, in the presence of the community as well as the institutions. “During the third quarter of a year ‘n,’ we organize the public feedback session of the year n-1. We present the taxes collected and what the community could do with these taxes. We invite again the authorities, some embassies such as the ones of The Netherlands and Germany that we invited in 2016. We also invited AMM and colleague mayors,” (Holder of an Advanced Technician Diploma in Forestry and Water).
A true leader
To qualify for the award for transparency, the local government presented in detail, the use it made of citizens’ money. The jury undertook a field trip, not for the purposes of assessing the work of a year, but to assess “the management of the preceding three years.” This means that one has to be ready to single out oneself among the 90 local governments out of the 180 which are covered by the program.
“The members of the jury noted that the local government was fulfilling its mission regarding the organization of public feedback sessions. There were minutes of meetings, minutes of public feedback. The local population was involved in the preparation of the budget. They noted that nothing was carried out in the local government without the knowledge of the people. They noted an involvement of the various stakeholders, elected officials, village chiefs and the people in the running of the life of the community,” said Ms. Diabate.
Unfortunatley, her local government did not win the first prize, because, “its rate of mobilization of resources did not reach 90%,” claimed Ms Diabate.
Ms Diabate expressed her pleasure as a member of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) and as a beneficiary for the training in participatory budget. Training has been integral to introducing an inclusive management style in her town hall. “I was able to undergo the participatory budget training with REFELA in Tunisia in 2013. I implemented this in my local government. This was an important and decisive factor in the prize awarded of my local government,” she acknowledged.
REFELA, the UCLG Africa Gender Commission, can count on its representative in Mali to share its expertise. Indeed, the local elected official has a wider vision, employing the motto “train to train.” In the field, she is already busy, working to make other local governments showcases of economic development, like hers.
“I call to my fellow mayors, to always move along the line of setting up participatory budget, because trust comes only where there are confidence criteria. How can we take taxpayers’ money and not show them how their money is spent? We have to share information. This is what is missing in Africa. I calll to the women mayors to share their experience. In Mali, I support fellow women mayors during the public feedback exercises. I was in Gadougou 2 Local Government in Kita Circle, it was the first time since the decentralization that there was a feedback session for the people. The latter thought that the money collected in the local government went directly to the circle in Kidal. They realized after this public feedback session that it is with their money that we pay the staff, it is with their money that we pay 10% that the partners request for the investments. This year I asked a question to the mayor on resources mobilization, and she informed me she already succeeded in mobilizing, during the first quarter, 50% of the resources.”
Ms. Diabate is described as “a woman activist with great experience, who fights tirelessly for the emancipation and empowerment of women in Mali,” Mali Web, in 2016. She was named Personality of the Year, by the local press in 2013. She has held positions Secretary of Training within the Executive Committee of the Association of Municipalities of Mali; President of the Joint Technical Committee of Lux Development in the Ségou region; Representative of the Network of Local Elected Women of Mali and the Network of Local Elected Women of West Africa (REFELA).
Participatory budgeting is a powerful tool in the fight against corruption at the local level for citizens and elected officials, who are at the center of the process. In order to sustain the training of leaders of local and regional governments, UCLG Africa has decided to structure the capacity building component of local elected officials through the operationalization of the African Local Governments Academy (ALGA). The participatory budget college is one training course offered by the academy. A first training session took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 27 February to 01 March 2018.
It should be noted that in Mali, the Accountable Local Governance Program (PGLR), launched in 2015 for a term of 6 years, is funded by the Dutch Embassy to the tune of $16.77 million. The overall objective of the program is to contribute to the development of basic social services by improving the management of local public affairs and setting in motion a sustainable movement (a culture) of Young Citizens, active and engaged in governance; as well as raising the level of accountability of local authorities and public services management bodies in the management of public funds and services.