Constituting the Local Government Commission is a long drawn-out process

 Dear Editor,

The main provisions of the Local Government Commission Act 2013, differ substantially from those relating to the Local Government Commission contained in its predecessor, the Municipal & District Councils Act, Cap 28:01.

First of all it is noted that the membership of this body corporate “shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority”.

Happily, its eight members will be more democratically appointed, as follows:

 

  1. a) three members by the President in accordance with his own deliberate judgement;
  2. b) three members by the President, on the Advice of the Leader of the Opposition after consultation with other parliamentary parties;
  3. c) one member – after approved by the National Assembly upon nomination by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Appointments from persons submitted by trade unions within the local government system, and one member appointed by the Minister after consultation with Local Democratic Organs.

 

Immediately the indicators are a long drawn-out process, for which however it would be preferable for specific timelines to be consensually agreed.

But to compound the selection process Section 4(2) of the Act insists that:

“All appointments shall be made from among persons of unquestioned integrity and with extensive knowledge, where predictable, in local government matters, administration, finance, Amerindian Affairs, industry or law.”

However, these eligibility capabilities become more challenging when the functions of the Commission are examined.

A serious review of the expected talent and experience required of respective members leaves one to begin the selection process by asking for volunteers. So much so that in recognizing the magnitude of the responsibilities, as well as the quality of decision-making, required of the Commission, the latter is allowed to seek support in that it “may delegate, in written form, to any local government organ, authority to perform duties and discharge functions on its behalf as it may determine.”

What a confusing (if not conflicting) structure of accountabilities relationships. What happens if and when the delegated duties and functions are poorly/wrongly implemented?

We need advice on this and other inherent conundrums.

Yours faithfully,

Earl John

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