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Lalit jointly with village councilors and grassroots organisations say no to the abolition of Village Councils!

23.06.2003

To The Minister of Local Government
Emmanuel Anquetil Building
Port Louis
23rd June, 2003

Dear Sir,

We, representatives of village councils, groups, and associations in the South and in Curepipe met in a Special Assembly on the 8th of June 2003 at Plaine Magnien Village Hall which was hosted by the Plaine Magnien Village Council. In this Special General Assembly, we unanimously decided to request an urgent meeting with you to discuss our concerns and proposals on the Local Government Bill that has already passed first reading in the National Assembly. However, we decided to address this letter to you now, in consideration of the fact that we know that you, as Minister, would be taken up by national budget debates in the National Assembly for some days after the 9th of June i.e. after the presentation of the budget. Given that the Local Government Bill is scheduled to be debated in the National Assembly in July, this meeting is now urgent.

You will recall that on 16th of May, a petition entitled “Comments and Proposals” was remitted to you (see enclosed). Although we note that one or two changes based on our demands were made in the new version of the Local Government Bill presented in the National Assembly, NO fundamental changes have been made. For example you are still abolishing Village Councils, imposing undemocratic criteria for village people to stand candidates in local elections and you have removed the concept of “Comite Quartiers” altogether while we were demanding that these “Comité Quartiers” be elected, on the same basis as Village Councils in rural areas.

We have discussed the new version of your Local Government Bill in the Special Assembly held on the 8th of June. We maintain the demands submitted to you (except for one of the demands concerning the totalitarian powers that you proposed by given to the President of the Republic that has been withdrawn in the latest version of the Bill). We inform you that these demands have been endorsed by us in the democratic assembly of Village Councillors, village council groups and associations of peoples’ in the South and in Curepipe. We consider the latest version of the Local Government Bill remains unacceptable and democratically genocidal.

In addition, we also wish to discuss the following demands with you in the meeting:

* That grants to local authorities be guaranteed in proportion with the population in each local authority from the national budget regardless of the judgement the Minister of Finance makes on the possibility of the local authority concerned to increase its revenue by way of any local rates, fees or charges, or of the opportunities for the development of business, industry and commerce within the area of the local authority. We make this demand so that the Central Government cannot put pressure on local authorities to impose taxes on village residents, or increase them; or to pressure local authorities into joint ventures with private companies.

* That workers of the public sector be given the right to stand in local elections. We do not see why employees of the public sector should be excluded from participation in local elections, and if elected, should not be disqualified from being Councillors in local authorities.

* That the power to alter electoral boundaries for local elections and setting up new local authorities rest with the Legislative Assembly, and not in the hands of the President of the Republic. We propose that the same procedure used for constituency boundaries be used for boundaries for local elections i.e. that the Electoral Boundaries Commission present a report every 10 years (or whenever necessary) to the Legislative Assembly to propose changes to boundaries of local authorities, and that the Legislative Assembly either accept these proposed changes in toto, or reject them.

We hope a meeting can be arranged as soon as possible. Up to now, we note that you have had consultation meetings with councillors at District Council and Municipality-level, but have engaged no discussion with associations of inhabitants and village council level, who will be the most affected by proposed changes in regional administration.

Awaiting a positive response from you.

Yours sincerely,

Rajni Lallah
Pritt Ramkissoon,
Ashok Subron
Munsoo Karrimbaccus,
Prem Bootoo,
Abdool Sabeer,
Asram Rugjee,
Krishnajeetsingh Runglall
Nanda Mootoosamy
Somanah Buddaru
Pierre Joson


For the Special General Assembly consisting of the following people who endorsed a resolution to send you this letter in their name, and endorsed the main points to be raised in this letter. There were some 30 more people representing villages, and organisations who voted the resolution however their names were unfortunately not recorded as they came late. A number of village councillors who could not be present in the Assembly have also endorsed this letter and their names have been added to the list below. The list of 64 endorsers includes 23 Village Councillors, and many representatives of associations, groups from 23 villages in the South, and Curepipe.


For Correspondance, please contact:
Ashok Subron, 153b, Main Rd. G.R.N.W.
Tel/Fax 208-5551, 208-2132