A letter in your edition yesterday, by a writer whose name you didn’t publish, raises the question of township status (‘Are Mabaruma, Lethem and Bartica now townships?’). Thanks to the helpfulness of local officials, I have seen the Order No 26 of 2015 naming, on the election timeline, nine towns including Mabaruma, Bartica and Lethem, as well as 63 NDCs not including Mabaruma/Kumaka/Hosororo, Bartica and Ireng/Sawariwau which formerly represented the constituencies of the three new towns.
This Order was made under the law concerning local authority elections, so fixes the town councils and NDCs for which we will be voting next March 18. The winning town councillors in those elections will meet to elect from their number mayors and deputy mayors, while the new NDC members will elect chairpersons and vice-chairpersons.
If my take on this is wrong, somebody please correct me. Meanwhile, what other answer could your correspondent want? In practical terms, a town is not a town until it is run by town councillors. Most of our towns and NDCs are now run not by elected councilors, but by appointed IMCs; now we know we will get out of that situation, we need to prepare to elect truly direct representatives who are in close touch with local issues, to take our communities forward. Then we need to prepare to hold them to account more strictly than ever before.
The next question is, could those councillors serve us all better if they were free from direction by centralized political parties?