NAUSHERO FEROZE: The people of Sindh have rejected the new Sindh Local Government Ordinance, which was promulgated in the dead of the night by a so-called democratic government.
Ironically, the new ordinance is an almost identical copy of the Local Government Ordinance under General (retd) Pervez Musharraf that was so vehemently criticised and mocked by the very same people who have now found faith in it — merely by adding the word “Peoples” to the title! (It is so similar that even the spelling and drafting errors in the old Ordinance have been repeated.)
The Constitution states that “each Province shall by law establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments”.
Local government, by definition, implies governance at the grass-roots level and in administrative sizes in which the voice of the hari, worker and citizen can be heard. Merging Karachi’s five districts into one mega metropolitan corporation, which population-wise comprises over one-third of Sindh, cannot in any way be described as “grass-roots devolution”. If that is so, then what justification is there to have broken Hyderabad into four pieces? Let us give the people of Hyderabad the same courtesy and good governance that Karachi is being given and restore its status.
The new ordinance has many flaws, but the most glaring of them is the bifurcation of Sindh into two categories of district, one run by mayors and the other by chairmen. One category has been granted extraordinary powers, whilst the other seems to have been reduced to rubber-stamping lackeys of the provincial government. If these “metropolitan corporations” are the panacea to all the governance ills affecting Sindh, then why not have them in each and every district of the province? After all, everyone in Sindh deserves the best available system — don’t they?
Take the case of Los Angeles which actually comprises 88 incorporated cities all with their own mayors. And what we all fondly refer to as “London” is, in fact, legally only one square mile of town within a cosmopolitan conglomeration of 50 independently functioning councils. Therefore, we can see that local governments, operating so well in other countries, even in mega cities, are structured in administrative and political sizes in which people figuratively speaking at least, can have their voice heard in “town halls”.
That is the essence of local government.
Arif Mustafa Jatoi
Member Provincial Assembly of Sindh
Village Tohrah, District Naushero Feroze
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2012.
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