Overdue local government elections should predate general elections, according to non-governmental public policy organisation Blue CAPS, which says broken and neglected communities should be addressed before there is an attempt to fix the national system.
The group’s position was released on Thursday, which was also the same day that opposition party AFC submitted its proposed no-confidence motion against the government to the National Assembly.
If passed, the motion would result in the holding of general elections within three months.
Blue CAPS acknowledged the possibility of a “no-confidence” motion being presented in the National Assembly and said it is an issue for parliamentary political leaders to deliberate and decide upon. If a majority no confidence verdict is carried, it said it would respect whatever guidance is offered by the constitution to deal with such a circumstance. However, at the same time it said the local polls should be the priority, while adding that the effects of the dysfunction at the community level “hits closer to home.”
According to Blue CAPS, there is no guarantee that general elections will remedy the current governance issues between the legislature and executive. “We could end up with a similar dispensation and which would further exacerbate and prolong the rot at the local and community levels,” it warned.
The group argued that local elections will give citizens a closer and more accessible say in the conduct of public affairs that affect their lives and communities than at the centralised national level.
It also observed that local government structures and leadership have decayed and become ineffective, and it said fresh polls will allow for new leaders to emerge and for the design of new approaches to solving community and municipal problems.
“If effective, these new leaders can potentially be presented at the national level as candidates for general elections,” it pointed put. “New and more effective management can result from [the elections] and this would allow central government and other bodies to focus more on issues of strategic national importance and relieving them of considerable administrative burden of managing both local and central demands,” it added.
Blue CAPS also highlighted the fact that most young people have never participated in a local government elections and many would love the opportunity to do so both as voters and contestants.