Alarming VDC crisis in Gambia!

Dec 8, 2020, 10:53 AM

The recent rise in the number of disputes over Village Development Committees (VDCs) in many communities in The Gambia calls for a concern. It is high time authorities act on the matter before it gets out of hand.

In a nutshell, VDCs should be open to accountability and term limits in administration as stated in the Local Government Act 2002. According to the Local Government Act 2002, VDC executive members should be elected in which two members (male and female) from each clan (Kabilo) shall be entitled to vote and registered at the Area Council.

Last time it was the people of Kartong in Kombo South, who are calling for the dissolution or resignation of the Village Development Committee (VDC). Now it is the concerned citizens of Kafuta in Kombo East, who are threatening legal action against the VDC.

Among the many allegations leveled against the current VDC of Kafuta, include embezzlement of public funds, and their failure to call congress or AGM since 2017, among others.

It is a fact that for a village to realise sustainable and meaningful development, there must be a well constituted VDC. And VDCs are supposed to be watchdogs in terms of community development initiative and as such it must include people who have the charisma, transparent, impartial and above all represent the will of the people.

This is even in line with the Local Government Acts. Also, Village Development Committees should in the first place know their functions to enable them work according to their mandate. Gone are the days when VDCs are just randomly selected based on tradition?

For instance, Section 193 (1) of the constitution states that Local Government Administration in The Gambia shall be based on system of democratically-elected councils with a high degree of autonomy.

Whereas, Section 214 (3) of the constitution says the state shall be guided by the principle of decentralisation and devolution of governmental functions and powers to the people at appropriate levels of control to facilitate democratic governance.

So if this section of the constitution is ignored or sidelined, there are likely to problems. And people must also know the reasons why VDC, and how VDC is constituted? Who should be a member, VDC limitations and their roles and responsibilities.

There is need for people to know their civic rights and this cannot be realised in the absence of good governance. Let’s ensure sanity in the selection of VDCs as this is crucial in ensuring for lasting peace.

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis".

Dante Alighieri