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Rural Reform

GOVERNMENT fear to give more powers to regions in this country will deprive   development to the rural people who are in poverty.

17 years have passed,  when the  decentralisation policy  was adopted in 1997 which was made to bring and take away government more closer to the people.

Since the adoption of the National Policy of Decentralisation in 1997, the implementation by the line ministries and the key players is moving at a low pace.

Perhaps the implementation is moving slowly due to many challenges towards bridging this gap.

Only few ministries have managed to decentralise functions to the regional councils but not fully as some functions and powers are still centred in Windhoek.

Some political prudent who are in key positions have mooted decentralisation as unconstitutional in a unitary state Namibia since it only promote federal system and regionalism. This influenced line ministries to be reluctant to devolve functions and powers.

In recent constitutional amendment bill in waiting to become the law , in its third motivation Dr. Albert Kawana pointed out   that decentralization is sometimes mistaken for federalism and regions are administrative not executive. With that powers to give regional governments were thrown away and removed.

Rural areas and local authorities are playing a big role in the participatory democracy such as elections, they are majority but unfortunately they are not empowered economically.

Though, decentralisation is still on hold in Namibia, the majority rural town     dwellers and villagers will continue enduring needless pains of government basic services such as tertiary education, health, personal documents , jobs and etc.

A reformation of new village councils and constituencies across the country is a welcome development that will solve longstanding issues of unemployment and movement of people from rural areas to towns and Windhoek city in search of better life.

Looking back in the past, Bantustans policy was similar to decentralisation policy and regions were mandated authority over budgets, responsibilities   and powers on behalf of their communities to administer   in their own legislative assemblies and executive committees for policy formulation. Though the only difference here was based on ethnical and tribal differences.

However, former Regional, Local Government and Housing Minister, Dr Nicky Iyambo, pointed out after the implementation of decentralisation policy in 1997that the pace and context of decentralisation in Namibia under devolution shall be determined by considerations of democracy and participative governance, while taking into account political, technical feasibility, individual capacity, national macro-economic and fiscal government, public sector, economic reform policies as well as the general activities in the country. He stressed that, it is imperative that the policy process be given overall regard because its importance to effective governance is insurmountable.

Article 108 (c) of the Namibian Constitution, states decentralisation as constitutional requirement which give certain powers and responsibilities to regions.

With that , decentralisation in this country should not be on hold, the central government alone in Windhoek will not be able to solve the needs of every citizen , instead to make a reform of our rural areas for the people to make informed decisions.