Objective of the Policy

Why Decentralise? - Objectives of the Policy

Decentralisation – the transfer of political, financial and administrative powers from central government to regional councils and local authorities – has great potential to foster sustainable development in Namibia. The main objectives of the Decentralisation Policy are listed below.

To extend, enhance and guarantee participatory democracy

In the context of government decentralisation, "participation" refers to community members exercising their rights and responsibilities through democratic processes. That is, community members participate in regional governance by voting for their elected representatives in regional government; and by involvement in government programmes and activities. It is the civic duty of the citizens to form civil society groups such as NGOs, rate-payers organisations and service clubs, which both initiate innovative self-help programs such as poverty alleviation projects as well as lobby government on behalf of their members

To ensure and safeguard rapid sustainable development.
Sustainable development will only be safeguarded when people are given the opportunity to participate in decision making on issues that affect them. The strengthening of sub-national government structures creates more avenues for civil society organizations - interest groups, business associations, labour unions, the media, etc. – to be engaged and stimulate participation and also articulate local views and needs, thus enhancing sustainable development.

To transfer power to the regional councils and local authorities based on national ideas and values.
This entails transferring power and responsibility to a regional councils or local authorities to govern its own affairs. This would include provision of services based on its own priorities, in accordance with the aspirations of the people and in line with the relevant laws and Constitution of the Republic of Namibia. When the government powers are decentralized to Regional Councils or Local Authorities, this gives the citizenry a greater sense of belonging. In general, people tend to respond more positively to a government that is nearer and more tangible to them. This implies that people will be able to easily hold the regional and local councillors accountable for failure to deliver services or reward them for delivering good services.

To improve capacity of regional and local government councils to plan, implement, manage and monitor delivery of services for their constituents.

Political, administrative, financial and planning power will be transferred from central government ministries to regional councils and local authorities.  By receiving the functions regional and local authority councils will become responsible for and get the authority to carry out planning, implementation, management and monitoring of service delivery at the regional and local levels. Based on the transfer, regional councils and local authorities are to be provided with continuous and formalised capacity building and training in essential fields to improve their service delivery. It is a requirement under the Namibian Decentralisation policy, that the delegating or devolving authority provides the required resources to build the required skills and equip the regional and local institutions.

Functions of the Policy

What Exactly is being decentralised?

The Decentralisation Policy identifies 28 functions (tasks) that should be decentralised (handed over) to regional councils and local authorities in the short term. These functions, listed below, are services that directly affect the life of the communities:

  • community development and early childhood development;
  • administration of settlements;
  • rural water development and management;
  • management and control of communal lands;
  • primary health care;
  • pre-primary and primary education;
  • forest development and management;
  • physical and economic planning (including capital development projects);
  • emergency management;
  • resettlement, rehabilitation and housing;
  • regional council personnel responsibility;
  • vehicle testing and licensing;
  • rural electricity distribution;
  • town planning schemes within the framework of approved master plans;
  • business registration;
  • housing provisions;
  • electricity distribution;
  • liquor licensing;
  • environment and conservation;
  • social services;
  • youth, sports and recreational activities;
  • collection of assessment rates and some form of taxes, excluding income tax, general sales tax, and additional sales levies;
  • libraries;
  • agency services to towns, villages and settlements;
  • traffic control;
  • control of aerodromes;
  • rural assets management; and
  • small miners development.

Other functions identified in the policy document are intended to be decentralised either in the intermediate or long term.