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Twenty years ago, UN-Habitat convened the first World Urban Forum conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to address the challenges of accelerating urban management and maximizing its potential. On June 27, 2022, the annual conference will be held in Katowice, Poland with a focus on addressing the challenges facing cities today, from rising food prices to the effects of COVID-19 on domestic costs. for the threat of climate change. on amenities and housing. These and other crises are seen as potential impediments to urban sprawl, as outlined in the UN’s New Urban Development Plan and the 11th Sustainable Development Goals. make cities and settlements more cohesive, secure, resilient, and sustainable. “

Nowhere is the challenge more pronounced than in sub-Saharan Africa, which currently has the largest urban population in the world and is projected to include 13 of the 20 largest cities in the world by the end of the century. The African Union summit in Kisumu, Kenya last month emphasized that this development does not depend on the country’s major cities. Average cities, defined as having a population of between 50,000 and 1 million people, are also facing significant pressure.

Encouraging urban change in African cities requires as much attention as possible to different levels and ways to deal with urban dwellers such as investing in jobs, transportation, housing, and other services . In Africa, at least three debates are arising about how governance should be structured at the local level to achieve these many goals. These include the election of mayors, whether local councilors run for office, and whether central governments should democratically elect local government leaders to improve employment.

Power to the people?

One area of ​​debate is how to choose mayors. Direct elections allow all city constituencies to elect a mayor, while direct elections require voters to choose candidates to represent their constituency, and candidates to choose who should be mayor. . Conversely, in the folding system, which represents the most specific form of political system, the central government elects mayors. Although most Latin American countries have directly elected a mayor with executive powers, and many European, North American and Pacific cities have returned to direct local government elections from the 1990s to the early 2000s, most African leaders they restrict their political independence. Direct mayoral elections are held in only a few countries in the region, such as Madagascar, Senegal, and Zambia. Many have held direct elections while a few, such as Angola and Ghana, have relied on presidential nominations.

There is a potential benefit and disadvantages to direct and indirect elections, although the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. On the other hand, because direct elections often lead to independent candidates, this could undermine the party system and allow for a more humane political future. For example, in 2018, Mozambique withdrew from direct elections after some independent candidates won mayors’ seats in major cities previously held by the two main parties, Frelimo and Renamo. See the article : The Colombian Election – United States Department of State. On the other hand, direct voting can improve the bill for voters and define the lines of service delivery. At the same time, it is believed that elected mayors will be directly involved in the affairs of the city, not just in their constituencies, and often will not be able to recall because of internal and party tensions. The latter could pose a serious threat to service delivery in allied cities, as the situation worsens in South Africa, due to tight budget allocations between allies.

Recent events indicate that the general election is being held in several countries. For example, major civil society groups have condemned former Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s 2020 bid to change the 2016 constitution, which allows for direct mayoral elections. In Malawi, citizens are advised to elect their own leaders directly, at the request of local civil society groups, and the proposal is finally introduced as part of the country’s local government reform. And almost 70 percent of Ghanaians would prefer to elect their own leaders directly rather than continue with the current presidential system.

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Where’s the party?

A second area of ​​ongoing debate is whether local governments should include independent or partisan legislatures. While some fear that partisan competition harms service delivery, non-partisan elections can sometimes favor incumbents because, without showing party affiliation, voters’ I can only rely on the name. In addition, non-partisan elections sometimes hinder public turnout because voters do not have enough data to assess the validity of candidates. To see also : Moqtada al-Sadr changes Iraq policy as summer protests loom. Although the number of local voters in Ghana is small, district councilors who support the mayor must be independent. In December 2019, President Akufo-Addo canceled a planned referendum that would allow Ghanaians to choose whether or not to allow constituency candidates to run on party tickets. He pointed to concerns by the opposition party and traditional leaders that partial competition at the local government level would hamper service delivery.

A similar argument has been made in Sierra Leone where the ruling People’s Party of Sierra Leone wants to switch to non-partisan local government elections as part of the country’s 2020 constitutional amendment. Concerned that this would weaken the ability of the opposition parties to rebuild the country through the big cities, all the major opposition parties have been vocal in their opposition to the move.

(Re)centralizing local functions

A third area of ​​contention is whether central governments have the right to abolish local government services – or even remove elected mayors – to improve service delivery. A notable incident took place in 2009 when President Museveni took power from the mayor of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, and created the Kampala Capital Authority with the appointment of a manager. Recently, President Kenyatta cited the lack of job creation as the reason for the cancellation of most of Nairobi’s district projects by mid-2020 which was previously handed over to the provincial governor by Kenya’s 2010 constitution. See the article : Three local exhibits to look out for at the Utah Art Festival. By creating the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), the military has essentially become responsible for key operations and most of the city’s budget. Or how the administration of the capital will be handed over to the local government governor after the August 2022 presidential and gubernatorial elections remains to be seen.

Opposition-led city councils have been linked to central government interference, as is the case in Zimbabwe. Since 2008, when the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MDC) began gaining ground in local government, the ruling ZANU-PF party has suspended the expulsion of mayors in Harare and other major cities. the country, a situation that has further weakened the service sector. Of course, this period coincides with the mountains of uncontrolled waste, broken sewers, and unsafe water. The by-elections held in March 2022 for the election of new councilors resulted in the opposition CCC replacing the MDC winning the majority of council seats. However, the Minister of Local Government has recently removed the newly elected chairman of the CCC and reinstated a new one, despite a high court ruling suspending him illegally. As a result, Harare’s population remains communist because both councils claim to be mayors.

Encouraging urban change in African cities requires as much attention as possible to different levels and ways to deal with urban dwellers such as investing in jobs, transportation, housing, and other services .

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Conclusion

In a report submitted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in March 2022 to assess the progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, little attention was paid to the importance of accountability from city leaders to their constituents. of service. Yet, as previous discussions have shown, the debate over how to best meet the needs and the most controversial system in Africa. While many cities are struggling with such challenges, the choice of leaders to deal with them, let alone the legal capacity to implement reforms and resources to be used — is very different, with far-reaching consequences. the key to achieving sustainable development goals 11. Great care. Thus comparisons of different urban constitutions and policies are essential to identify meaningful access points to achieve major African cities.

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