The Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Dr Peya Mushelenga, yesterday said the overall pace of decentralisation at both the central and sub-national levels is not yet where it should be.
Mushelenga said this during the opening of the two-day First Consultative Forum on Decentralisation that is underway in Windhoek.
He said he recognises achievements and progress made thus far by the Ministry of Land Reform, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), the Ministry Education, Arts and Culture, and the Ministry of Works and Transport.
“I thank these partners in decentralisation for their commitment to the cause and for their speedy action,” said Mushelenga.
He also calle on other decentralising line ministries to expedite their internal decentralisation processes.
“In according with the theme of “Reckoning”, this workshop should serve as a platform for us to review progress and to hold each other accountable where we are lacking behind,” Mushelenga told those in attendance.
He said in this regard, each decentralising line ministry must report on the stage or level of decentralisation where they are, the progress made, the challenges encountered and on the remedial action taken.
On their part, he said, regional councils must also report on how well they have integrated and executed the functions that have been decentralised already.
“The test of the success of decentralisation is not the number of functions that have been decentralised but more in terms of the impact and improvement that have been brought about in the form of improved service to the people,” he said.
He added that reports to the regional councils must include this aspect.
“I am aware that an involved national process such as decentralisation cannot be without challenges. I also however believe that if we all pull together in the same direction, no mountain will be too high for us to climb and conquer,” said the minister.
Mushelenga also used the opportunity to thank staff at his ministry and the Office of the Prime Minister for their continued guidance and support to the decentralising ministries and regional councils.
“Among others, I wish to recognise their efforts in the areas of capacity building and for having developed a Decentralisation Implementation Plan, which serves as a tool for setting decentralisation targets, timelines as well as for tracking the progress that ministries are making in meeting set targets and timelines,” he said.
He said this plan was presented to Cabinet and Cabinet has directed him to facilitate a workshop in April where members of Cabinet will be informed of the status of decentralisation in the country.
He said the workshop is crucial and is expected to generate and provide the inputs that are required and will serve as the status report that will be presented to Cabinet.
In this regard, he urged all participants to take the workshop seriously and above all to provide true accounts of what they are doing.