A. M. Khan
The importance of local governments for rural and urban settings is growing, and becomes captivating when the elections draw near.
Local governments help foster collective empowerment of local community to shoulder their socioeconomic and human development trajectories largely because of governments at provincial and federal cores are incapacitated in terms of reaching out at local level, and delivering much needed works of the people.
This gap was partly bridged by rural support organizations working on developmental issues through different programs, but all these were not suffice in a sense that could be done in collaboration of locally represented councils. Indeed, this situation has triggered some form of collaboration by local governmental jurisdiction with private, non-profit and other public entities but in the absence of local governments there’s no chance of collaboration and development initiatives in place. The involvement of such entities has also become limited in post-pandemic scenario; so such development alternatives remain to be no people’s representative led.
In fact, devolution is meant to make governance structures representative, more efficient and responsive to local needs, and transfer of power and policy making to local governments in their jurisdiction. Research findings hold that ‘political patronage and elite-led development policies have done little to alleviate the inequitable distribution of resources across and within different regions of the country’ consequently the peripheries, especially those areas where locals have little in their disposal to invest for local development, have lagged in development. This situation has increased the political importance of local governments, despite a constitutional requirement, instituting local electoral representation at local level in bridging inequality of resource distribution and dealing with local affairs.
Balancing the effectiveness of local governments and participation of local people in governance is central to democracy, however, ‘the pursuit of good governance and the desire for greater participation by citizens in public affairs are tensions at the heart of discussions of systems of government’ and the powers (subjects) devolved to the locally formed governments. There may arise the question of incapacity of the locals in shouldering given responsibilities through the local government devolution plan. The only answer to it is also about the chance, capacity-building and empowerment of locals to govern their local affairs through which they could progress with procedural to substantive system leadership roles.
Concern with this democratic deficit raises the question of local engagements, participation of people in local affairs, and their correlations with public trust. The perceptions and practice of local government performance in service delivery however remains to be and with strengthening of locals active engagement, participation and representation in governance and administration of their own affairs. This is how ‘the relationships between individuals, their communities, and the political process have been at the heart of such debates’ needed to continue and could be better addressed by strengthening local governments at local level, and giving people the opportunity and responsibility dealing with local community and affairs continue to increase day by day.