Ministry of Local Govt PS Keaja assures Cllrs money
Govt cites budget constraints for increment delays
Cllrs demand the money, petition Minister Molale
PS promises change on service delivery at Local Govt
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja says Councillors will get the outstanding 6% salary increase as government understands their grievances after petitioning the minister of Local Government Eric Molale demanding the pay.
Councillors felt that government was unfair to them after they were omitted from the 6% and 10% salary increment that was extended to civil servants and Members of Parliament (MPs) in 2020.
In an interview, Keaja said that government is working around the clock to pay the councillors.
He indicated that lack of resources due to the strained budget as result of Covid-19 pandemic resulted on the delay of paying the councillors noting that if situation improve they will be paid.
“We had the consultations with Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) last year on November regarding the matter. There are over 600 councillors that needs to be paid the due. Considerations will be made by the government if financial situation normalizes,” said PS Keaja.
In an interview, Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) president Jeffrey Sibisibi said that councillors independently petitioned minister Molale but also informed BALA about appeal.
“We are hoping that the ministry will call us for consultations on the matter and see what can be done. The councillors gave ministry 14 days to respond to the petition and we are ready for engagement with the ministry. BALA is committed for discussion on this matter,” said Sibisisibi.
In the petition, councillor says that Molale’s office must take cognizance that it had been one year and one month without receiving the increment indicating that the delay of this money had amounted to significant distress and damages of their lives therefore want money paid.
Meanwhile, Keaja said that the ministry is on a transformational journey aimed at improving service delivery at local government departments harnessed through new 2021-2025 strategy.
He noted that a new strategy which is premised of six pillars is the bible in terms all of delivery efforts.
“The pillars include reorganize the ministry to improve the organizational performance. Successful implementation, local government digitalization, growing local economies and resilience, and the provision of effective local services and infrastructure are the areas of focus for delivery,” he said.
Oozing with confidence, Keaja says that the budget priorities will be aligned to service delivery at the local authorities buttressing that ministry also want to drive the transformational agenda.
He underscored the importance of digitalizing the local government through overhauling the old manual system as the ministry’s delivery of services is anchored on councils and Bogosi hence it is important to enhance service delivery by playing part in Smart Botswana initiative too.
Keaja revealed that the Decentralisation Policy is taking shape as councils are consulted by the minister over and been drafted with help Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA).
According to him, the policy is critical in the sense that it achieves to improve service delivery too.
He said that the councils have been engaged on the draft policy by the minister to get their views on it.
To date, Keaja has indicated that councils such as Chobe, Jwaneng, Ghanzi and South East have been consulted by the minister of local government adding that the policy is strategic for change.
The development of a Decentralisation Policy is part of an undertaking by the Government to create a governance framework that defines and aligns the roles and responsibilities of central government, local governments and non-state actors to drive decentralised, inclusive and responsive service respectively.
Sibisibi said that the policy is key step in the right direction commending ministry for valuing it.
He noted that BALA has been advocating for decentralisation policy and he consulted councils.
“It is encouraging that there is progress on implementation of the policy. The policy will give the councils more participation in the economy and their portfolio will expand. We are committed to fast-tracking the policy when it is adopted. BALA will fully the support government,” he added.
Local Government ministry was allocated total budget of P8.5 billion for 2021\2022 financial year.
PS Keaja says the largest share of P7.1 billion is for recurrent and P1.4 billion for development budget.
According to him, P4.7 billion of the recurrent budget is allocated for councils for their operations.
“Social protection department has been given P1.5 billion of the recurrent budget to take care of the old age and destitute pensions amongst others. The Tribal Administration is getting P662 million for allowances and salaries,” said Keaja noting that he expects money to be well utilized.
From the P1.4 billion development budget, Keaja said that P554 million is reserved for primary education noting that money will be for extension existing schools and building of 12 new schools.
Keaja revealed that 1 school will be built in Francistown, 2 in Gaborone, 2 in Central District, 1 in Kgatleng and 2 in North West, 2 in Jwaneng and the other 2 will be in Southern District as well.