Sunday, July 12, 2009

No plans for Presidential appointment of Mayors and Council Chairpersons

source: Republic of Botswana (11/7/09) TAUTONA TIMES no 18 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline

D6) 25/6/09: No plans for Presidential appointment of Mayors and Council Chairpersons

The Ministry of Local Government, has noted with concern misleading content contained in the lead editorial that appeared in the 17th June 2009 edition of the Botswana Gazette (“Presidential Power to appoint mayors and council chairmen would be a step backwards”), as well as its accompanying article (“Presidential Appointment Powers – The Bill enabling the President to appoint mayors and district chairmen should be Dead on Arrival”).

In its editorial the newspaper falsely claims that: “-the Executive is contemplating yet another measure to limit democracy by taking away Councillors’ right to elect their own leaders.” The newspaper goes on to further falsely assert that the positions would in future be appointed by the President.

Ministry has since confirmed that the proposed Local Government (District Councils) (Amendment) Bill, 2009 as published in the Government Gazette of 29th May 2009 is, in fact, simply “intended to amend the Local Government (District Councils) Act in order to provide for elections to the position of Council Chairperson or Mayor to be held every two and a half years in accordance with the standing orders made by the council.”

The Bill further proposes to amend the existing Act “to prohibit members of councils from concurrently holding positions as public officers.”

The above reforms have been proposed for the straightforward purpose of facilitating continuity and fostering productivity in town, city and district councils. Nowhere does the Bill contemplate giving the President any new powers to elect mayors and chairpersons.
The potential possibility of a President appointing a Council Chair is, in fact, only provided for in the original, 1965, legislation under extraordinary circumstance of establishing a new council.

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