Maseru City council (MCC) the country’s lone municipality, says failure of adoption of bylaws by the Ministry of Local Government, hinders their mandate to contribute to the achievement of environmentally-sustainable and socially-inclusive urban development and management strategies.
MCC was declared a local authority in 1989 under the urban Act of 1983, as pilot for the grand urbanization and Municipal management in Lesotho.
Since 1989 it was functional without a Council (local elected leaders) which greatly undermined its effectiveness in service delivery.
In 2005, a new council was established under the Local Government Act 1997, as amended in 2004, which also established local authorities in the country.
In addition to its ineffectiveness and inefficiency, the rapid urban growth has served to defeat proper and sustainable management of the urban environment.
In a recent interview with this publication, MCC Public Relations Officer Khotso Makamo, said since its inception, MCC has been running without bylaws saying this is somehow hindering the work they do as they often find themselves having to use other national laws in matters relating to council business.
Makamo said MCC fails to hold people accountable for the laws they violate because there are no binding principles for keeping order.
“We have gotten to a point where some bylaws were adopted, in 2018 after the new government at the time and the then MCC management took the bylaws draft to the ministry and the minister at the time commended the bylaws draft and the work they are intended for and suggested that they are made blanket for all the councils,” Makamo said.
He said that was the last time he heard about them adding not knowing what the ministers before him did with the drafts.
“Management did draw bylaws which were then passed on to the ministry, whose role is then to have them presented to parliament for tabling, but they never got adopted and I hear this has been happening since as far back as 1997,” he said.
Makamo said for one to be accused of bridging the law there has to be a law present to build the case on and without bylaws that cannot be done.
“…for instance, we don’t have a bylaw that we can use if someone is found urinating in public, we do not have bylaws to either fine them or charge them but because of lack of these bylaws, we are forced to use the general law which talks about public indecency and charge them with that,” Makamo said.
He said at the moment, they charge M200 to people found parking at the wrong places.
“Right now we are charging people M200 for parking where they should not park. This is not because we need the money but we need to control the traffic inside town and that works for us,” he said, however adding that making drivers pay also doesn’t have a bylaw but it was a resolution they concluded on to control traffic.
Makamo said bylaws include those that will control health and sanitation, food, street vending, market and parks to mention a few.
“Our work as the MCC is to manage, control and administer all the activities which take place in town and all in all there are 27 activities that have to be done by the MCC but at the moment only 13 are practical. The rest are relying on the decentralization policy to be effected.”
For her part, Ministry of Local Government’s Director Decentralisation ‘Mating Mahooana said other councils’ bylaws haven’t even been submitted yet.
She said because there were 128 councils, the number had to be decreased to 64 and councils had to start over with the bylaws which they have not done yet.
She however said MCC has submitted their bylaws which are currently at the law office and does not know how far they are with the processes.