Decentralisation Too Slow?

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The debate over whether the decentralisation process is too slow or moving speedily ahead is ongoing. But with the dire need for development especially in the rural areas, the process of bringing services closer to the people becomes ever more pertinent. Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Kazenambo, delved into the subject recently when he officially opened the Windhoek West Constituency Office in the Khomas Region. “The need for decentralisation has now become more demanding than ever before. However, some say it is too slow. Some say it is not working. Yet others say it has caused fear and insecurity to some people and that is why it is slow or not working,” said Kazenambo. He added that whatever the case might be, the situation of decentralisation is “irreversible and here to stay”. The decentralisation policy implemented by government in 1998 is primarily geared towards transferring responsibilities and powers to the regional and local authorities. In doing so, the services will trickle down to the people at the grassroots level as development. “It is a people-centred approach to development,” said Kazenambo, adding that self-initiated participation by communities is the key to broad based development and capacity building. As a result, decentralisation has numerous benefits for the majority of the rural poor in terms of promoting genuine democracy and polity equity, enhancing management efficiency and maximizing mobilisation and the use of local resources. Other advantages are that the process also shows flexibility and transparency and responds to the concerns of the people, and further creates an enabling environment for local entrepreneurs and development agents to carry out their work. Consequently, the newly inaugurated Windhoek West Constituency Office is viewed as implementing the decentralisation process in that specific area for the benefit of the community. Although there are instruments like the Regional and Constituency Development Co-ordinating Committees, cooperation between the various stakeholders to carry out development in rural areas is lacking or weak. In light of this, Kazenambo expressed disappointment with the lack of coordination especially in a central region like Khomas. “As far as co-ordination in our planning is concerned, we are not doing well at all,” he said. “I therefore urge you to ensure that we always strive for better coordination and coherence across our policies, units and programmes for increased benefits in our delivery of services to our people.” Rural development therefore lies in the hands of local authorities and the community as a whole where all the different stakeholders should work together for the benefit of all. Thus, regional planning needs to be an effective tool through which concerted efforts are made to act upon and use these policies in line with the country’s long term developmental goals of Vision 2030 and National Development Plan 3. Governor of the Khomas Region, Sophia Shaningwa, said the new office serves as tool for effective service delivery to the people for their social well-being. “This office is not just a building, it is a platform for nation-building, a platform for socio-economic positive change that will be enhanced via a bottom-up approach,” said Shaningwa. “This is an office of the people, for the people.” This was the third constituency office to be opened after the previous two, namely, Tobias Hainyeko and Samora Machel. A fourth office in the Khomasdal North Constituency is expected to open its doors in two weeks’ time.