As part of the Government Transformation Programme, there is an urgent need for transformation in the operation of local governments to better serve the needs and meet the aspirations of the people.

Local authorities are the level of government closest to the people. They are the managers of urban environments while the communities are the stakeholders.

With each passing day, local government becomes more and more significant in terms of acquiring the capacity to deal with the many issues and finding quick and effective answers to community needs and services.

Local government, instead of being the lowest level of government should become the highest in terms of the people’s need for services. All local authorities should strive to give their best services and be accountable to the people they serve.

Effective and efficient local authorities requires good leadership that is accountable to the people. Absence of local government elections means that local councillors are not the choice of the people but are appointees of the state governments.

Poorly managed local authorities inevitably lead to bad governance. Governance means more than government or its management. It refers not only to the relationship between governments and state agencies but also between government, communities and social groups.

Good governance requires wide participation and discussion involving not only governmental agencies but also diverse representatives from NGOs and civil groups.

Participation by all stakeholders is a cornerstone of good governance. And stakeholder involvement is vital for local authorities to work to bridge the divide between citizens and local authorities.

Involving citizens at grassroots level is a key ingredient of good governance. This is more so when we do not have elected local councils.

Only genuine stakeholder involvement can give the people what they want for their cities. Citizen participation is also vital for good governance to create a society where government gains and holds the confidence of the people.

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