February 5, 2008

Country to establish a single local government system

The Commonwealth Secretariat has organised a workshop aimed at strengthening the ability of local governments in Swaziland to effectively deliver services to citizens. The workshop is a response to a request made by Swaziland's Deputy Prime Minister, Constance Simelane, during her visit to the Commonwealth Secretariat's London headquarters in March 2007.
Although decentralisation in Swaziland can be traced as far back as 1955, it was not until 2005 that the government formulated a decentralisation policy, which has now been fully adopted as part of its governance structure. Over the next five years, the Swazi Government intends to implement measures that will establish a single countrywide system of local government which is currently divided between rural and urban authorities.
This policy is reflected in the country's 25-year strategy - the National Development Strategy - as central to its development agenda and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). John Wilkins, Head of GIDD's Special Programme Section, said many developing Commonwealth countries are facing a myriad of challenges including poverty and delivering local services such as health care and education. He added that "local governments can play a significant role in addressing these and other allied issues like attaining the MDGs." Munawwar Alam, the Secretariat's Adviser for Sub-national Government and Administration, stated that the workshop would enable top policy-makers in the country to understand the challenges of implementing local government reforms and finding appropriate solutions. "It will also consider various reform options suitable for the country; how leadership can bring about change; recent trends towards decentralisation in Sub-Saharan Africa; and experiences of other countries," he noted. (Commonwealth News and Information Service, London)

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