The Local Government Act 2004 makes provisions for political, fiscal and administrative decentralization. The Bo District Council is designated the highest political authority in the Bo District, and elections to these are held every five years; since 2004.
The formal articulation of the government’s Decentralization Policy, published in September 2010 and launched in February 2011, states that local councils are the ‘highest development and service delivery authorities’ in their localities.
In terms of revenue generation, local councils generate their own funds through loans and grants, as well as from taxes, mining revenues, royalties and licenses, but typically at least 70% of revenue is obtained from central government transfers.
These funds are tied to specific sector-based activities and programmes, and Parliament reserves the right to add conditions to how local council transfers are spent.
In conjunction with sector-based spending, the Act has seen the administrative functions of 17 ministries, departments and agencies devolved to local level.
Central institutions are still responsible for strategy, monitoring and evaluation, procurement and recruitment.
Bo District Council has had a number of successes, such as providing the opportunity for citizens to participate and stand in local elections, access information on government activities and hold the government accountable.
In terms of concrete service delivery, despite a number of challenges, Bo District local government council is considered by the constituents served, to have had a significant impact on service delivery
Councillors are elected through universal suffrage and represent wards within the Bo District: three to a ward in municipal councils and one in district councils.
District Councils is headed by Mr Joseph Munda
Bindi as its Chairman. The Bo District Councils also
include three paramount chiefs. The council promotes development and welfare
services, mobilise resources by setting tax rates and implementing budgeted spending.
The Council also make and enforce by-laws – for instance on taxation, the use of streams and rivers, domestic violence and cultural practices. These are always consistent with the constitution and the Local Government Act, and must be approved by the Attorney-General.
Councillors are responsible for maintaining close contact with wards and chiefdoms, consulting on key issues, communicating council decisions and promoting development activities. All Bo District Councillors reside in their local communities, so citizens can engage decision-makers more easily.
Ward Development Committees (WDCs) comprise every Councillor in the ward, the paramount chief, and not more than 10 other persons, at least five of whom must be women. Ward representatives are elected.
Since the re-establishment of local councils in 2004, the traditional authorities, known as Chiefdom Administrations, have operated side by side with the formal local government structures. The important role of Chiefdoms was reconfirmed by the adoption of the Chieftaincy Act of 2009. The Chieftaincy Act of 2009 institutionalized the power of traditional authorities, acquired during the colonial era, and “… froze the institution in the form it had existed at the end of the colonial period”
The adoption of this Act was a deliberate attempt to re-legitimize the institutions of traditional authorities, as their popularity and legitimacy had been greatly weakened during the civil war.
When elected local councils were reinstated in 2004 after a hiatus of more than 30 years, they joined a complex system of already existing local authority structures that draw their organization and legitimacy from a wide range of different systems and traditions— customary, colonial, and modern.