Current governors powerless – Basson

KEETMANSHOOP � Despite being often the first port of call for many desperate citizens seeking solutions to their challenges, regional governors are without any powers to help meaningfully, says //Kharas Governor Lucia Basson.

This challenge kicked in after the promulgation of the Special Advisors and Regional Governors Appointment Amendment Act (Act 15 of 2010), which legislates for the appointment of governors by the head of state.

That law was compounded by the Amendment Act (Act 16 of 2010), which separates the powers of the governors from those of the regional council chairperson.

The most glaring outcome of these amendments were that governors, as unelected officials, no longer have a say in how resources of regional councils must be utilised � as was once the case.

Basson, who leads the biggest but one of the poorest regions in the country, says she feels the pinch of having to listen to issues affecting the region's residents but having nearly no power to address those challenges.

She described as 'peanuts' money allocated to the governors' offices and said was it not for the bleeding-hearted fishing companies such as Namsov who helps the governors' offices financially, there would be virtually nothing these political appointees would do to help.

The budget goes directly to the regional council, which is now a somewhat separate office from that of governor. As an unelected official, my say and control in the financial affairs of the regional council are limited, she told New Era yesterday.

I have no control over the regional budget, yet I am the first person the people run to when they face challenges. What I do, in my case, is referring them to their constituency councillors who themselves have no serious financial resources allocated to them.

We are representatives of the President in the regions, so people run to us.

Under the current law, governors have no voting rights at regional council meetings, the governor further said.

We are not crying for power but we surely must have a mandate over resources. If it means changing the law to achieve this, let's do it.

We are constantly reminded that we are not voted. There's a disconnect between our functions and the powers being in the hands of regional councils. We are overloaded with government functions but it's hard to execute when you have no say in how funds allocated to the region must be utilised, the governor told New Era.

She suggested that lawmakers urgently look into approving the envisaged Constituency Development Fund Bill, which has seemingly been picking dust at Parliament since 2015.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia