By Engel Nawatiseb ONGWEDIVA The Mayor of Ongwediva and Chairperson of the northern-based Mayor’s Forum, Erastus Uutoni, has issued a strong warning to technocrats that are reportedly abusing their powers to disrespect the authority of mayors. Uutoni’s outburst was provoked by revelations that some mayor was forced to “hitch-hike” to attend a weeklong course organized by the Municipal Development Partnership (MDP) a fortnight ago despite the availability of council transport. Although he did not point to a local authority for alleged unethical conduct, Uutoni stated that certain officials apparently refused to allocate a driver to escort a particular mayor to the workshop, for instance. “These people are undermining us on a serious note. The mayor was told to drive herself or to take a lift because the technocrats refused to give a driver. Our forum would take up the matter and we are questioning the motive behind this move because we cannot tolerate such agendas that could disturb good governance at councils.” Uutoni added that some technocrats are also seen to delay invitations that are extended to mayors and submit them shortly before the scheduled meetings. He noted that it is unacceptable to undermine the leadership of elected representatives of communities. “People are out to humiliate us, how could one expect to be served an invitation almost an hour before the meeting despite the fact that such invitation has been delivered more than a week ago?” he wanted to know. He also took issue with mayors and councillors who are reluctant to show commitment to a local initiative aimed at uniting mayors and their deputies around the Mayor’s Forum, which is constituted by towns of the four northern regions. A similar meeting that was scheduled for last Friday nearly failed to materialize until a quorum was finally secured at the last minute. “Efforts of this magnitude require staff members to prepare documents that are very costly. Mayors should not expect to be respected by others if they ignore their own programmes and platforms to strengthen their positions and those of their respective councils. We need to show our commitment right in our own yards.” The mayors met to discuss the challenges faced by councils following the establishment of the Regional Electricity Distributors (Reds), the Local Authority Reform process that is currently underway and also to prepare for the special Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the forum that should take place at Ongwediva this year. He advised mayors to forge partnerships and cooperation that should serve as a catalyst in bringing about the much-needed changes in local authorities and the communities in particular. Uutoni stressed that the establishment of the forum symbolizes growth, maturity and commitment towards the realization of good governance and economic prosperity in the country. He added that the forum is intended to serve as a long-term medium for lifelong learning in areas of good governance, nation building and socio-economic and political education.
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