KARACHI: The four-year term of the elected local governments in Sindh came to an end on Monday as the provincial authorities dissolved all municipal bodies through a notification.
The Sindh government’s local government department also asked the LG representatives across the province to return the assets which they were handed at the time of their oath four years ago.
With the fresh notification, an official said that the provincial government was bound to appoint administrators for the municipal bodies for an interim period before the fresh elections were held.
“Consequent upon expiry of four (04) years term of Local Councils on 30th August 2020, pursuant to section 20 (1) of Sindh Local Government Act 2013, all offices of elected Mayors, Deputy Mayors, Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, members, representative and such office bearers of Metropolitan Corporation, Municipal Corporations, District Councils, Municipal Committees, Town Committees, Union Committees, and Union Councils, in Sindh shall cease to exist w.e.f 31st August 2020,” read the Sindh LG department’s notification.
Sindh govt yet to appoint administrators to run the LG set-up until new polls
It directed all outgoing local government representatives to settle “individual liability, return asset(s), including government vehicle(s), and state belonging, if any, to officer-in-charge of respective council, at once, as failure would constitute offence”.
‘A bumpy ride’
It was a bumpy ride between the PPP, which has been running the provincial government for the past 12 years, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, which until yesterday controlled local governments of Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas.
The four-year term of the elected LG system in Sindh was seen largely ineffective with off and on debates and arguments between LG representatives and PPP leaders representing the provincial administration.
The completion of the four-year term coincided with the record-breaking monsoon rains, which played havoc on Karachi and other major cities’ infrastructures causing pressure on the federal, provincial and local governments amid calls for massive reforms in the civic infrastructure, particularly drainage and municipal system.
For many it would be interesting to see the process of next LG election and response from the people of major urban centres of the province amid a strong rivalry among the key parties having electoral mandate from Sindh cities and a history of municipal governance.
“Only this month [August 2020], PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari publicly asserted that the Sindh government would lead the administrative affairs of Karachi regardless of the mandate of any party in the local bodies’ election,” said a senior political leader, wishing not to be named.
“So I don’t think that there would be any major change of policies towards powers and control of local bodies in Sindh. Under the existing circumstances and the policy stand of the PPP, the political tension would further grow among the parties as we have witnessed in the past.”
The MQM, whose leader Wasim Akhtar was Karachi’s mayor for four years, frequently lodged complaints of having no powers and funds to run the affairs of the megacity. However, the ex-mayor often came under fire for his performance.
The PPP government on the other hand has been enjoying full administrative control over Karachi for the past 12 years. The provincial government is responsible for even many civic and municipal functions such as garbage collection, building control, master plan, water and sanitation, etc.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2020