Editor's Comment

Decentralisation: Way to go

Government complex.

DEMOCRATIC governance entails giving power to the people, thus the slogan ‘Power to the people’.When citizens are in charge of their affairs, they have a say on a number of issues that affect them. After all, they understand the issues better.
In giving power to the people to decide on some issues that affect them, Government recognises the fact that the people at the lower levels of society have visions, too.
These members of society have the ability to decide what is best for them with the aim of achieving objectives of central Government.
It is for this reason that Government decided to decentralise some of its operations and now the policy is being implemented.
Giving power to the people in communities to contribute to development in a decentralised governance system makes them feel part of the development process.
They are able to see their decisions as part of the whole while at the same time they own the outcomes of the process.
But in arriving at their decisions, the people at the lower levels of governance still need the guidance of expert personnel and this is why Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska has directed all ministries to start transferring personnel performing devolved functions to councils.
The transferring of the personnel is part of the implementation of the decentralisation policy to enhance service delivery.
Dr Msiska made the directive in Chibombo yesterday when he launched phase one of the implementation of the human resource management reform programme in Zambia.
He also directed that the ministries that will transfer personnel need to ensure the devolved functions go with matching financial and material resources.
The directive by Dr Msiska should be taken with the seriousness it deserves so that the staff who will be transferred to the local councils from the ministries start performing their functions at the local government level.
The success of the decentralisation programme depends on qualified personnel who should help in guiding the people on policy and other expert issues.
As Dr Msiska said Government is in a hurry to transform the public sector for national development and bring it to the dictates of the 21st century. Such reforms show Government’s eagerness to involve its citizens in the development process.
Staff who no longer have any worthy roles in ministries must indeed move to councils where the development agenda is most critical. Supervision of development projects must be at grassroots where it is happening.
The measure is also aimed at making local authorities tick more and deliver better service to the local people. This is commendable.
A decentralised system means the officers at that level exercise some amount of responsibility or they are able to use discretionary power in arriving at decisions.
The officers should not, therefore, see themselves as being in charge but only as those who provide guidance to the people at the local level.
We urge the officers who will be transferred to the councils to do their best as they bring development down to the lowest level.
We implore the ministries to heed Dr Msiska’s directive to also ensure the devolved functions go with matching financial and material resources.
We are alive to the fact that a programme of this magnitude requires resources and we are confident that Government will always support it financially.
At the same time, this programme needs the support of all to succeed.

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