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District Councils in Botswana—a Remnant of Local Autonomy

  • Louis A. Pichard
Extract

There has been a fairly standard flirtation in Africa between new states and an apparently attractive type of local government. District councils have usually been hastily instituted during the last stages of colonial rule; important functions are transferred to them after independence, and there is great faith in their ability to act as autonomous links between the centre and the periphery. This initial period of optimism, however, quickly dissipates and is replaced by growing disappointment with the ability of the councils to handle various problems. A recentralisation of authority in the capital city then becomes almost inevitable.1

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page 285 note 1 Johns, Sheridan and Riley, Richard, ‘Local and District Councils – Should They Be Forgotten?’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge), XIII, 2, 06 1975, p. 309.

page 285 note 2 Ibid. pp. 312–54. Also Lucas, Bryan K., ‘The Dilemma of Local Government in Africa’, in Robinson, Kenneth and Madden, Frederick (eds.), Essays in Imperial Government Presented to Margery Perham (Oxford, 1963), pp. 193208.

page 286 note 1 According to Johns and Riley, loc. cit. pp. 315–21, only Sierra Leone, the Gambia, and Botswana in English-speaking Africa had local councils in with any kind of decision making autonomy.

page 286 note 2 Tordoff, William, ‘Local Administration in Botswana, Part II’, in Journal of Administration Overseas (London), XIII, 1, 1974, p. 302.

page 287 note 1 Lucas, loc. cit. p. 196.

page 287 note 2 Wraith, R. E., ‘Administrative Change in the New Africa’, in African Affairs (London), 66, 264, 1967, P. 267.

page 287 note 3 The Republic of Botswana was known as the Bechuanaland Protectorate before independence in 1966.

page 287 note 4 Stevens, Richard P., Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland: the former High Commission Territories in Southern Africa (New York, 1967), p. 139.

page 287 note 5 Faucus to Lawrenson dated 7 Maya 1960; Botswana National Archives (hereinafter referred to as B.N.A.), Gaborone, File S.579/7.

page 288 note 1 Administrative Conference, 1963; B.N.A., S.596/7.

page 288 note 2 Hailey, Lord, Native Administration in the British African Territories, Part v, The High Commission Territories: Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland (London, 1953), pp. 328–31.

page 288 note 3 Ibid. p. 328

page 288 note 4 Circular Memorandum No. 58, 1954; B.N.A., S.555/6.

page 289 note 1 Tordoff, William, ‘Local Administration in Botswana, Part I’, in Journal of Administration Overseas, XII, 4, 1973, p. 174.

page 289 note 2 Gillett, Simon, ‘The Survival of the Chieftaincy in Botswana’, in African Affairs, 72, 287. 04 1973, p. 181.

page 289 note 3 In Tanganyika, for example, local councils were established by the Local Government Ordinance of 1953, some eight years before independence and prior to the determination of the ultimate political evolution of the country. See Dryden, Stanley, Local Administration in Tanzania (Nairobi, 1968), p. 15.

page 289 note 4 Administrative Conference, 1963; B.N.A., S.596/7.

page 290 note 1 Proctor, J. H., ‘The House of Chiefs and the Political Development of Botswana’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, VI, 1, 05 1968, p. 66.

page 290 note 2 Quoted in Mitchison, Naomi, Return to the Fairy Hill (London, 1966), p. 257.

page 291 note 1 Dixon, A.J., ‘Memorandum’, 23 10 1967, L.G. 1/6/14, Vol. 1. Dixon was a Lecturer in Public Administration, University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, Gaborone Campus.

page 292 note 1 Ministry of Local Government and Lands, Annual Report, 1967 (Gaborone, 1968), p. 23.

page 293 note 1 Humes, Samuel, ‘The Role of Local Government in Economic Development in Africa’, in Journal of Administration Overseas, XII, 1, 1973, p. 25.

page 293 note 2 Gunderson, Gilfred L., ‘Nation-Building and the Administrative State: the case of Botswana’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1971, p. 7.

page 294 note 1 C. Baur and J. Licke, ‘District Councils: their problems, the present situation. Ministry of Finance and Development Planning’, F.D.P., 90/9/2, n.d., mimeographed.

page 294 note 2 Smith, Brian C., Field Administration (London, 1967), pp. 44–7.

page 294 note 3 Presidential Circular, 1970, ‘District Commissioners, District Councils and Ministerial Staff at District Level Coordinating Work’, L.G. 29/3, Vol. 1.

page 294 note 4 Interview with E. B. Egner, Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Lands, Gaborone, 5 May 1975.

page 295 note 1 Tordoff, William, Sarpong, M. A. B., and Pilane, D. L., ‘Report of the Local Government Study Group’, Gaborone, 1970, mimeographed; B.N.A., File S.M. 193C1. Professor Tordoff from Manchester University was brought in as a consultant to the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, and with Sarpong, an experienced Ghanaian public servant, and Pilane, the Botswana Director of Personnel, spent a number of weeks studying District Administration and Councils prior to issuing their report.

page 295 note 2 See, for example, Akpan, N. U., ‘The Scaffold and the Structure’, in Corona (London), 09 1955, pp. 326–9.

page 296 note 1 E. B. Egner, Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Lands, Minute M.2; L.G. 19/3, Vol.1.

page 296 note 2 As one official in the Ministry of Local Government and Lands put it; L.G. 19/3.

page 296 note 3 Minutes, Southern District Development Committee, 26 07 1972; L.G. 3/3/6, Vol. 1

page 296 note 4 Sekga, C. P., Council Secretary, Kweneng, 12 10 1973; L.G. 3/3, Vol. 3.

page 297 note 1 Memorandum on District Development Committees, 1971; L.G. 19/3, Vol. 1.

page 297 note 2 L.G. 1/5/15, Vol. 1. Much of the above is based on an interview with W. K. F. Boakgomo, Establishment Secretary, Unified Local Government Service, 22 March 1975.

page 297 note 3 L.G. 1/6/10, Vol. III.

page 297 note 4 Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Lands, to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs, 18 November 1973; L.G. 3/3, Vol. III.

page 298 note 1 Sources: Botswana Government, 1972 Audit (Gaborone, 1974); and Town and District Councils. Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Recurrent Budget, 1973–76 (Gaborone, 19731976).

page 298 note 2 Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Lands, Circular Letter to all Ministries and the District Administration, 2 November 2973; L.G. 3/3, Vol. III.

page 299 note 1 Werlin, Herbert H., ‘Elasticity of Control: an analysis of decentralization’, in Journal of Comparative Administration (Beverly Hills), 11, 2, 1970, p. 192.

page 299 note 2 Ibid. pp. 191–2.

page 300 note 1 Edelman, Murray, The Symbolic Uses of Politics (Urbana, 1970), p. 2.

page 300 note 2 Ibid. p. 4.

page 300 note 3 Morgan, E. Philip, ‘Botswana’, in Legum, Colin (ed.), Africa Contemporary Record, 1976–1977 (London and New York, 1977), pp. B735.

page 301 note 1 Botswana Daily News (Gaborone), 8 07 1975.

page 301 note 2 Parson, Jack, ‘Political Culture in Rural Botswana: a survey result’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, xv, 4, 12 1977, pp. 639–50.

page 301 note 3 See, inter alia, Macartney, W. J. A., ‘The General Elections of 1969’, in Botswana Notes and Records (Gaborone), 3, 1971, pp. 3237, and Government Printer, Report to the Minister of State on the General Elections, 1974 [by Steenkamp, Philip L., Supervisor of Elections] (Gaborone, 1974).

page 301 note 4 Parson, loc. cit. p. 641.

page 302 note 1 Minutes of the Third General Meeting of the Northeast District Development Committee, 22 July 1975, D.D.C./4 IV (60).

page 302 note 2 Interview with Daniel Kwele, Council Secretary, Northeast District, 2 July 1975.

page 302 note 3 Botswana Daily News, 14 August 1975.

page 303 note 1 Interview with B. R. Chibana, 6 July 1975.

page 304 note 1 The information in this paragraph is based on notes taken during the Third National Conference of District Development Committees, 14–17 April 1975; the quotations are kept anonymous as they were generated in the course of non-public discussion.

page 304 note 2 National Conference of District Council Secretaries, 11 May 1975, Conference Minutes, C.D.C./A/1/1.

page 305 note 1 Edelman, op. cit. p. 5.

page 305 note 2 Gunderson, op. cit.: Vengroff, Richard, ‘Local-Central Linkages and Political Development in Botswana’, Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1972; and Picard, Louis A., ‘Role Changes Among Field Administrators in Botswana: administrative attitudes and social change’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1977.

page 306 note 1 Interview with B. R. Chibana, Council Chairman, Southern District, 6 June 1975.

page 306 note 2 Interview with Daniel Kwele, Council Secretary, Northeast District, 2 July 1975.

page 306 note 3 Sources: Botswana Government Audit (Gaborone, 1974);Town and District Councils. Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Recurrent Budget, 1973–76 (Gaborone, 19731976); and Ministry of Local Government and Lands, L.G. 3/C/2 XC.

page 307 note 1 Discussion of Council Finances, Third National Conference of District Development Committees, 14–17 April 1975.

page 307 note 2 Speech by Fryer, S. W., Finance Officer, Ministry of Local Government and Lands, at the Institute of Development Management, University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, 6 07 1975.

page 307 note 3 Discussion of Land Reform, Third National Conference of District Development Committees.

page 308 note 1 Picard, op. cit. pp. 521–74.

page 307 note 2 Edelman, op. cit. p. 5.

* Assistant Professor of Political Science, The University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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