Reverend Jan Scholtz
For any organisation to be regarded as capable, it can be assumed that it has to achieve results attached to the functions associated with such an organisation. According to a study conducted by Matebesi (2015), protest action by local communities in South Africa had increased from approximately 10 in 2004 to 111 in 2010 to 173 in 2012. In the first nine months of 2014, 134 demonstrations were recorded.
The study defined service delivery protest as “collective action taken by a community which was directed at a local municipality over poor or inadequate provision of basic services”.
Based on this study, one could easily be tempted to argue against the capability of local government structures. Although it would obviously be an unbalanced approach to use the number of service delivery protests as the only yardstick to measure local government capability, it has to be recognised that the ability of municipalities to provide basic service delivery and developmental needs of local communities, is under constant scrutiny. The results of the recently concluded local and regional government elections, in which the governing party lost control in key municipalities in the country, are seen my many as an additional indication that the supposed recipients of municipal services are not satisfied with the performance of municipalities. (The Namibian, Friday 27 November 2020)
The National Development Plans’ emphasis on a capable state could in the Namibian context be interpreted to refer to either a recognition that in order to achieve any government objective, a well-oiled government machinery is imperative or that potential shortcomings exist in the way in which the government machinery is functioning.
Which of the two is most likely applicable probably depends on which side of the political spectrum people view it from. From a neutral and objective observer perspective, it is necessary to contemplate all the factors applicable to ensure that government operations lead to the realization of government objectives which in turn leads to acceptable service rendering to communities which will in the end enhance the credibility of the government with the population.
Much has been said about local government and its inability to perform at a credible level in the eyes of an expectant public. The fact remains that within the significant roles assigned to local government in Namibia’s constitutional dispensation and its proximity to the real issues that affect ordinary people on a daily basis, local government remains the potential flag bearer of the Namibian government. It illustrates its commitment to act in a manner that will create an environment in which each citizen can reach their full potential.
In order for this to be achieved though, a core collective of people are needed that possess inherent to them a commitment, but also the skills and competencies attached to the specific role they fulfil in an effort to make local government work effectively and efficiently.