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Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance

The Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance is now co-edited and has a new look. Under the continued editorship of Prof. Alison Brown, the Centre for Local Government at the University of Technology, Sydney is pleased to partner with Cardiff University and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) to produce the journal. This new partnership will ensure the continued development of the journal as an important platform for local government researchers and practitioners to share knowledge and experience. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

Implementation of the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED)1began in 2012 in seven countries for a duration of six years, to support sustainable economic growth in the region. CARILED has introduced the idea of local economic development (LED) to the ‘development’ debate in the region but has also brought the organisational capacity of local government, and local government’s role as ‘facilitator’ of LED,to the fore. This paper assesses organizational behaviour and capability in local government in Jamaica to determine the state of readiness for a developmental role. The paper draws on two sets of research data to aid its analysis–a capacity audit (CAPAUD) conducted in 2010 and an organisational analysis (OA)commissioned by the Ministry of Local Government in 2010, both of which targeted a sample of local authorities in Jamaica.The study found that when assessed against established criteria for an LED organisation, ie: research and information provision; marketing and coordination; learning and innovation; and leadership - local government’s institutional and organisational capacity for development is unevenly distributed. For instance, local leaders understood organisational purpose but efforts to give effect to this appeared undeveloped, sporadic and uni-directional. It was also evident that participatory strategies are used to gain information from communities but these were often devoid of systematic research methodologies rendering formal community impact on local planning negligent. Finally there is strong potential for the kind of administrative leadership required by a developmental local government to evolve,indicated by the quality of training, quantum of managerial/supervisory staff, and stability of staff establishment. However, this potential is threatened by the deficiencies in the non-traditional functional areas that are strategic to the organisation’s effectiveness as a ‘facilitator’ of LED, ie:alignment of community engagement/interface with LED priorities, diffusion of information technology in organisational processes, and utilisation of policy analysis and development. These findings contribute important policy relevant information to the discourses in the region about the construction of alternative solutions to institutional and organisational problems in response to the economic crises of small island developing states (SIDS). 2014/07/23 - 17:21

Decentralisation has been implemented and is being implemented in many developing countries without much success. Although several unique factors inhibit the implementation of decentralisation in individual countries, the paper argues that there are six pre-conditions that these countries should fulfill before decentralisation can be successfully implemented. These preconditions are: institutional mechanisms; creation of spaces for participation; political will and civil will; capacity development at the local level; careful implementation; and democratic governance. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

This paper considers the role of the public library as a community hub, engagement space, and entrepreneurial incubator in the context of the city, city governance, and local government planning. It considers this role from the perspective of library experts and their future visions for libraries in a networked knowledge economy. Public libraries (often operated by or on behalf of local governments) potentially play a pivotal role for local governments in positioning communities within the global digital network. Fourteen qualitative interviews with library experts informed the study which investigates how the relationship between digital technology and the physical library space can potentially support the community to develop innovative, collaborative environments for transitioning to a digital future. The study found that libraries can capitalise on their position as community hubs for two purposes: first, to build vibrant community networks and forge economic links across urban localities; and second, to cross the digital divide and act as places of innovation and lifelong learning. Libraries provide a specific combination of community and technology spaces and have significant tangible connection points in the digital age. The paper further discusses the potential benefits for libraries in using ICT networks and infrastructure, such as the National Broadband Network in Australia. These networks could facilitate greater use of library assets and community knowledge, which, in turn, could assist knowledge economies and regional prosperity. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

The research discussed in this paper was prompted by the writer’s interest in the roles of England’s small country (“market”) towns. It has two aims: first, to discover the extent to which the work programmes announced in the British government’s Rural White Paper (RWP 2000) (DETR-MAFF 2000) are recognised by town clerks, and second, to find out what town councils are doing, either on their own, or with others, and to gauge the potential and desire that they have for a greater degree of autonomy. In both cases the data was gathered from an online questionnaire sent to town clerks. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

The paper examines the impact of public accountability mechanisms in the Uganda's decentralisation local governments. Some of the common tools used for evaluation of local government performance have been presented and discussed including the baraza, village participatory democracy and the score-card reporting method. The orthodox theories of local governance and concept of democracy are bases for assessing the feasibility of public accountability in Uganda. The conclusions of the paper points to inefficiencies are the universal applicability of the concept of local democracy leading to a suggestion of new mechanisms of public accountability that emerge from organisational learning. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

This paper is an attempt to assess the impacts of off-site and on-site resettlement projects in Indore by comparing slum dwellers lives before and after the implementation of the projects, complimenting and corroborating a sister paper based on fieldwork in Ahmedabad (Patel, Sliuzas, Mathur, & Miscione, fortcoming). The impact analysis is based on the indicators of impoverishment risks due to displacement and resettlement formulated by Cernea (2000a) in his Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction (IRR) model. The findings indicates the presence of the following forms of impoverishment which Cernea proposed for the displacees: significant loss in household assets, increased joblessness or unemployment, loss of access to common services, increased health risks, marginalisation and social disarticulation, all of which have compounded their vulnerability and chances of falling deeper into poverty. The paper also argues that compared to off-site and on-site resettlement displacees were less affected by negative consequences and impoverishment risks. The paper concludes with recommendations for slum resettlement policies of local government so that impoverishment risks can be reasonably averted. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

This paper encapsulates the outputs of a Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) funded project that aimed to improve the levels of HIV governance at the district level in Malawi and Zambia by encouraging public participation in an effort to more effective use of local resources. The methodology for this project, developed by the Institute for Democracy in Africa (Idasa) and SDC, included a barometer which assessed perceptions of district HIV governance among key stakeholders. Perceptions were gathered on governance principles of effectiveness, efficiency, rule of law, accountability, participation and equity. The stakeholders ranged from administrators, political representatives, community-based organisations and the private sector on the supply side and citizens on the demand or beneficiary side. The findings of the research indicate specific sector governance issues that may be generalised to governance. Communication and transparency appear to be major issues underpinning the bottlenecks and shortcomings in the HIV sector governance at the district level. Information gaps have given rise to accountability deficits and coordination deficiencies. Addressing these matters would make more effective use of resources and lessen dependence on external funding sources. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

Ghana has attempted to decentralise the management of irrigation schemes to communities at local government level. This study examines the existing local participatory management structures and the principles of the Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) strategy designed to promote sustainable management of irrigation schemes in Ghana. Two community-based irrigation projects, Bontanga and Golinga in the Northern Region of Ghana were selected for the research. The study demonstrated that farmers’ participation was minimal and limited to the discussion of irrigation service charges at the expense of other issues related to the sustainability of the projects/schemes. The study also established that there was less participation of women, and more than half of all the crop farmers on the two irrigation projects were reluctant to assume additional responsibilities without remuneration. The study therefore concluded that the sustainability of the PIM strategy depends on the adoption of an integrated management approach involving all stakeholders including local government, with appropriate incentives. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world accounting for an estimated 71% of all new infections (UNAIDS 2010). HIV prevalence is greatest in urban informal areas, caused largely by the proliferation of a variety of risk environments that facilitate the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. As a strategic response to the complex nature of the HIV/AIDs epidemic in urban areas, decentralised multisectoral HIV/AIDs responses at the local government level have been adopted. These are seen as a sustainable way of dealing with the spread of HIV/AIDs in a number of African cities, in line with internationally accepted recommendations. Now that a number of local governments in African cities have adopted HIV/AIDS multisectoral responses, the question can be asked to what degree is this is this response being implemented in these countries, and what challenges are faced by cities as they adopt this approach? This article reviews HIV/AIDS multisectoral responses in African cities, and discusses the challenges that face urban local governments as they implement these responses. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

As the period of implementation for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws to a close, the global community is actively debating what should replace them. Local government is working hard to ensure that the post-2015 global development agenda reflects the important role of local government in implementing the new targets. It is a unique opportunity for local government to make its voice heard, to promote the importance of localisation of the new targets, and to position local government as a key partner in the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2014/07/23 - 17:21

Basic Services for All in an Urbanizing World is the third instalment in United Cities and Local Government’s (UCLG) flagship series of global reports on local democracy and decentralisation (GOLD III). In the context of rapid urbanisation, climate change and economic uncertainty the report is an impressive attempt to analyse local government’s role in the provision of basic services, the challenges they are facing, and make recommendations to improve local government’s ability to ensure access for all. Published in 2014, the report is well positioned to feed into the current debate on what will follow the UN Millennium Development Goals, and examines the role of local government in the provision of basic services across the world regions. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

This ambitious and highly informative volume is premised on both the seismic shift in the perceived developmental role of local government across the globe, and the challenges that local governments will face as their key role in achieving the post-2015 sustainable development goals is increasingly being recognised within the global policy fora. New Century Local Government brings together an impressively wide geographic spread of country case studies from across the four regions of the Commonwealth, and pulls together work by leading scholars of local government who are all members of the Commonwealth Local Government Research Advisory Group (CLGF-RAG). It provides a plethora of detailed country case studies arranged around three themes: decentralisation in the Caribbean, Pakistan and England, local government finance and local economic development in India, South Africa and Tanzania, and new approaches to governance in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Not only do the papers provide detailed accounts of the changes in policy and practice within their focus country cases – but many of them, notably the papers by Brown, Reid, McKinlay and Sansom include a comparative perspective with developments from Commonwealth countries in other regions, which is one of the key strengths of the volume. It is also the raison d’être of comparative work across the countries of the Commonwealth, given the shared legal and administrative histories and the dominance of English as the academic and often administrative lingua franca. It would have been great to see more of the cross-regional and cross-country lessons being drawn out from across the contributions in a final concluding chapter, but the editors leave this to the reader – possibly to ensure they read the volume in full. 2014/07/23 - 17:21

The Uganda Constitution of 1995 spelt out the principle of decentralization by devolution. Accordingly, from 1995 to 2005, district local governments had a dejure mandate to hire and fire all categories of civil servants through their respective district service commissions (DSCs). Following the Constitutional amendment in September 2005, the right to hire and fire district chief administrative officers (CAOs) reverted to central government. Critics of recentralization of CAO appointments contend that the shift in the policy and legislation for managing CAOs runs contrary to the principles of decentralization by devolution. This paper argues that recentralization of CAOs has confused reporting, reduced the autonomy of sub-national governments in civil service management, undermined accountability of CAOs to elected councils, and shifted the loyalty of CAOs from local governments with and for which they work to central government that appoints and deploys them. To deepen accountability in local governments, the paper advocates for decentralization of CAO appointments, but for participation of central government in recruitment of CAOs within the confines of a separate personnel system. It further calls for a rethinking of the current call by the 9th Parliament to recentralize human resource in health in local governments owing to accountability challenges of managing the civil service in sub-national governments under an integrated personnel system. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

Uganda’s Government of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) assumed power in 1986, in an environment of political turmoil, and initiated a policy of decentralisation as a way of restoring state credibility and deepening democracy. Decentralisation was accordingly legislated under the Local Government Act of 1997, as a framework act directing the decentralisation process. The aim of the Act was to enable implementation of decentralisation provisions provided for under Chapter 11 of the 1995 National Constitution. The decentralisation policy in Uganda aimed at improving local democracy, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability in the delivery of essential services country-wide. Improved service delivery was in turn expected to make significant positive impact on people’s quality of life. Unfortunately, the implementation of decentralisation appears to have concentrated more on administrative objectives as a means of promoting popular democracy and less on service delivery which would have led to economic transformation and better lives for the majority of Ugandans, and now new districts are being created without corresponding improvements in service delivery. Surprisingly, this is happening in the midst of external praise that decentralisation reform in Uganda is one of the most far-reaching local government reform programmes in the developing world. The paper explores the role of decentralisation in development and how it can be undermined by political factors. It highlights the development of decentralisation in Uganda, discusses its achievements, failure and challenges, and concludes that the decentralisation programme which was ambitious and politically driven has had mixed results in terms of enhancing service delivery and should be seriously reviewed and strengthened if it is to remain as a role model in Africa. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

In 1997 Local Government Studies published an article (Asquith, 1997) which assessed the perceptions of managerial and political elites in eight English local authorities towards change management against the background of Conservative Governments' reform agendas. The article argued that the authorities could be placed on a continuum depending on their state of organisational evolution, with some authorities being better equipped to manage change than others. During 2005 the authorities were revisited to ascertain how they had adapted to deal with the reforming Blair Governments since 1997. What this article shows is that characteristics evidenced in the original work in the authority deemed to have evolved the most, were present in those authorities revisited. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

Social accountability is considered as one strategy of deepening Ghana’s decentralised development administration. Some attempts have been made to empower local people to demand transparency and accountability from the local government system as required by law. The purpose of this paper was to assess the effectiveness of these attempts in 14 Metropolitan and Municipal Assembles. The data for the analyses were sought through key informant interviews with core Assembly staff, and focus group discussions with selected Assembly Members. The analyses revealed that the legal provisions made room for social accountability but the weak capacity of Assembly Members in terms of resources, the understanding of legislative provisions, and the acceptability of the concept challenged its implementation. It is thus recommended that service provision in local communities should have capacity-building components that promote social accountability. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

The potential of property rate has been least tapped by decentralized governments in Ghana. This paper investigates the property rating system in Ghana through a case study of Offinso South Municipality (OSM). Questionnaires were used to gather empirical data from property owners in the municipality. The paper finds that there is inadequate property tax administration system and high public disdain for the property tax in OSM, with a significant association between compliance with the property tax and land use regulations in OSM. The paper suggests that the Offinso South Municipal Assembly (OSMA) should improve its land use planning system to facilitate voluntary compliance with the property tax. OSMA should also address accountability and transparency problems in the property tax system in order to increase public confidence in the tax regime. The OSMA should also improve on the property tax collection modes by computerising the billing and collection processes. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

This paper, based on a desk study, adopts a path-dependent perspective to explore how local government authorities in Ghana have attempted to institutionalise performance management at the organisational level. It questions the existing performance diagnostic framework that is used to assess local government authorities by arguing that any attempt to consolidate the prevailing ‘performance assessment regime’ ought to re-examine previous government initiatives that had in-built mechanisms for assessing local government performance. The prevailing system, despite its attempt to empower local authorities further promotes central government manipulation of local government administration. The paper concludes that performance assessment of local governments in Ghana will remain ineffective until local government councils genuinely serve local communities and their citizens by achieving goals and objectives that are consistent with the needs and aspirations of the latter rather than relying on annual performance assessments designed to ignore the opinions of citizens. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

The paper examines capacity building in Zimbabwe’s Rural District Councils (RDCs) from 1994 to 2001 and the resultant erosion of capacity during Zimbabwe’s protracted political and economic crisis that followed. It is prudent to ask whether there was ‘capacity building’ or ‘capacity erosion’. The paper establishes that the capacity building was piecemeal and that there was no genuine desire to build capacity, but that Councils embarked on these programmes to access the funding that came with the programmes. In some cases, the design of the Rural District Councils’ Capacity Building Programme (RDCCBP) was too rigid, derailed by the central government’s half-hearted attempts towards decentralisation, and failed to allow RDCs to learn-by-doing. Because of Zimbabwe’s politico-economic crisis, national level politicians were peremptory in their demands for better RDC results and an opportunity to learn was lost. The plethora of other rural development projects coupled with the project-based approach of the RDCCBP condemned capacity building efforts to the rigidities of projects and programmes, yet capacity building is better perceived as a continuous process with experiential learning. The paper concludes by arguing that capacity building efforts in RDCs were largely unsuccessful, and were derailed by the ‘Zimbabwe crisis’; the result can only be described as ‘capacity building that never was’. Internal efforts by RDCs to build their own capacity are more sustainable than efforts prompted by the ‘carrot and stick’ approach of external actors, such as central government (in a bid to ‘hive off’ responsibilities) and funding agencies. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

This paper examines the problem of integrating traditional rulers into the contemporary local government system in Nigeria with a view of resolving the problems arising from the tradition/modernity nexus in the present scheme. Two basic questions guided this work. The first relates to the relevance of indigenous traditional institutions to the challenges of contemporary democratic processes. The second relates to whether traditional modes of thought, behaviour and institutions constitute resources or impediments to the projects of modernisation and development. This paper concludes that the goal of modernisation is to generate rapid increase in social wealth and its driving force is economic development; and where traditional institutions are able to contribute positively to this goal, their input should not be jettisoned. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

The rationale for local fiscal autonomy suggests that local expenditure and local revenue generation should remain in close proximity. This is achieved through fiscal decentralisation to local government, to ensure efficient provision of local services that align with local needs, and to improve accountability to residents. Fiscal decentralisation has found resonance in developing countries through local government reforms, but in Africa fiscal decentralisation has been focussed mainly on revenue sharing, except in a few cases where some local fiscal autonomy has been achieved. Urbanisation in Africa is likely to continue (UN-Habitat, 2008), necessitating an increase in municipal service delivery which African cities must finance − hence the need for local fiscal autonomy. Local fiscal autonomy is arguably contentious for African cities, partly because provision of municipal services must be tempered with considerations of equity and redistribution to the poorer urban populations, and because inadequate welfare nets from national government do not subsidise the gap in municipal revenue. In the recent past, Kenya and South Africa adopted local government reforms in different forms that has yielded different forms of local fiscal autonomy. The paper conducts a comparative of local fiscal autonomy in municipal services provision in Nairobi and Johannesburg. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

The Urban Sustainability Support Alliance (USSA) was a large and multi-faceted NSW wide programme, which was delivered between late 2007 and late 2011, to support NSW Councils in integrating environmental sustainability into their policies, procedures, operations and programs. To support cultural change in 152 government instrumentalities, of different sizes, shapes and demographics, required innovation, connection and credibility. A diverse range of support and development mechanisms was required. The USSA coined the tag line: Supporting Councils on their journey towards sustainability, and was evaluated in 2011. This paper charts the journey and reports on that evaluation. It describes the USSA program: provides judgments about the value of the programme against its intended outcomes; and identifies formative findings for the future so that the necessary support might continue. The USSA was a highly successful program, with more than 85% of respondents from almost 80% of Councils in NSW indicating that the USSA had raised the profile of sustainability ‘a lot’/’a reasonable amount/some’. Of these, 48% indicated that the effect had been substantial. The evaluation report concluded that the USSA has provided ‘a lot, but not yet enough’ support to NSW Councils on the journey towards sustainability, and that there is still more to do. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

A number of approaches have been adopted in medical education geared towards training health professionals that can improve access to health care by communities most vulnerable to inequalities and injustices in health systems. Relevant health professions education is vital for improvements in health and health care access. A symbiotic medical education can improve the quality of health care and impact on career choice, yet the challenge to sustain equitable access to improved health and healthcare particularly for those most in need remains a major global challenge ( Ssewankambo, 2012). Within a decentralized system, such as in Uganda, Local Governments are mandated to ensure health promotion and equitable healthcare for the population under their jurisdiction. Whereas public service reforms have mainly focused on decentralization and good governance (Mamdani, 2012, Stiglitz, 2012), the role of curriculum reforms in addressing health and health care challenges through needs-based education of health professionals has been largely ignored. Through an analysis of the challenges of health care within a decentralized Local Government setting, this paper, by presenting experiences from one public university in Uganda, reveals how a partnership between Universities and Local Government can go a long way in addressing health disparities and reduction of morbidity and mortality. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

This paper is a scholastic enquiry on the politics of the marginalised, with special reference to Panchayati Raj institutions in the milieu of the Post 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act in India. It is a product of my theoretical reading and field based observations in the process of pursuing PhD in Political science the area of Dalit participation in Panchayati Raj institutions. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

The supply or lack of services impacts on people's quality of life, and so the Constitution of South Africa and other strategy documents emphasise the provision of services to all South African citizens irrespective of colour or creed. The services are vast and the responsibility for provision is divided between national, provincial and local authorities. This paper focuses on the delivery of services whose responsibility and accountability lies with the local municipalities, including: water; electricity; sanitation and refuse removal. The paper also explores the background to the recent unrest in the country with a focus on Dipaleseng Municipality, looking at its socio-economic situation, and challenges which include poverty, economic stability and provision of basic services. Sources of data include the South African media, journal articles, relevant documents, websites and databases. 2013/12/06 - 10:00

The establishment of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) in 1993 and concomitant percentage set aside for Members of Parliament (MPs) in 2004 aims to support local governments and legislators in pro-poor development activities in their communities and constituencies. In spite of the importance of the MPs’ share of the District Assemblies Common Fund (MPsCF) in financing local level development in Ghana, very little is known about monitoring systems and procedures on the disbursement and utilization of the funds. The study therefore assessed qualitative data derived from interviews with officials from selected Local Government Authorities (LGAs) as well as other key stakeholders in the disbursement and utilization of the fund. The study findings point to the absence of legislative instrument on the management of the MPsCF. Further, monitoring of the fund was a responsibility shared by the LGAs and other external stakeholders. Finally, the effectiveness of monitoring the disbursement and utilization of the MPsCF was strongly influenced by the relationship between the Chief Executive of the Local Government Authority (LGCE) and MPs in the local government area. 2013/05/14 - 14:00

This article examines the governance challenges facing Australian local government, which include lack of constitutional standing, intergovernmental dependencies, financial constraints and weak democratic standing. The historical context has shaped the nature and place of local government in the Australian federal polity and has contributed to the tensions created by an expansion of the roles and responsibilities of local government, especially in the provision of services, which is not matched by concomitant increases in financial capacity and local autonomy. These governance challenges are discussed with a view to establishing local government’s capacity for autonomous self-governance in the face of intergovernmental and fiscal dependencies, and the implications of this for local government reform trajectories. 2013/05/08 - 21:51

Local government is not a new concept in Pakistan. Since the founding of the country in 1947 Pakistan has always had local governments as the lowest-tier political structure. However, grassroots democracy has been eclipsed at different times in the country’s history. As we write this article, there is no elected local government in Pakistan. The article documents the recent history of decentralisation with special reference to the Devolution of Power Plan (DOPP) introduced by the military government of General Pervez Musharraf in 2001. The author was closely involved with the DOPP at both policy and implementation levels. The paper also looks at political economy issues relating to decentralisation in Pakistan. 2013/05/08 - 21:51

Executive turnover can have far-reaching consequences on a local authority’s development policies, programs and commitments. This paper examines nebulous labour-related problems in Zimbabwe’s Rural District Councils (RDCs). The article chronicles the origins of the problems and how the RDCs have fallen prey to historical pitfalls. This paper critically reflects on the recruitment and dismissal of senior Rural District Council officers. The article analyses the longevity of CEOs in eight RDCs over a ten year period. The results demonstrate the sensitivity and vulnerability of such offices, and unpack the blurry boundaries that lie between policies and practice and the resultant impact on the labour relationships with RDC staff. 2013/05/08 - 21:51

Participation and decentralisation have been shown to yield democratic outcomes in terms of efficiency, accountability and transparency through citizen engagement and devolution of powers. It has been a matter of debate whether they also benefit marginalised communities like the indigenous peoples. This paper analyzes the implications of decentralised governance in a tribal zone in India using the case of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 − the Forest Rights Act. The effects of the Act are studied in the district of Wayanad, Kerala, through the theoretical framework of transformative decentralisation and spatial politics of participation. The key objectives of the Act − securing tenure and access to Minor Forest Produce − have achieved limited success in Wayanad as a result of a narrowly construed ideas of people’s participation. While the process prescribed by the Forest Rights Act has the potential to create new spaces for participation, most of these spaces remain closed in Wayanad. The absence of a larger vision and a radical motive to engage with the underlying patterns of domination and subordination in society has confined the process of decentralisation to its technocratic essentials, raising questions on the extent to which the Act can pave the way for transformation. 2013/05/08 - 21:51