Statement – ZILGA Congress proof that Local Government is a puppet of Central Government (31-07-07)

ZILGA Congress proof that Local Government is a puppet of Central Government

It is a common misunderstanding in Zimbabwe that local government is “under” central government, and specifically that the Ministry of Local Government is in charge of all councils, both rural an

d urban. Sadly our Urban and Rural Councils Acts reflect this misconception by legislating for control by central government.

A basic tenet of democracy is that people choose who they want to represent them by voting. Having voted councilors, mayors etc into office, citizens expect their representatives to be answerable to them. Their representatives are not supposed to be answerable to central government. They are expected to concentrate on issues at local level, and to be instruments for the devolution of power which is also part of the democratic process.

Nor should central government have the power to interfere in the affairs of local councils unless there is a very serious crisis. It is the citizens themselves who should have the power to intervene if there is a problem, not central government, in a functioning democracy.

These basic principles of democratic local government have been enunciated over and over again by residents, yet central government has remained unheeding. Little wonder, then, that the just-ended ZILGA Congress revealed what residents associations long suspected – that the new ‘united” Association of Urban and Rural Councils is intended as a vehicle to support the ruling party and central government, and to remove the independence displayed in recent years by the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ).

Many who watched the ZBC coverage of the ZILGA Congress were outraged to hear ZILGA blatantly voice its support for the ruling party for the forthcoming elections in January and March next year. So much for local government being non-political, or for ZILGA being a non-partisan organization! ZILGA is clearly and unashamedly a Zanu-PF organization – delegates even did the slogan “Pamberi neZanuPF”!

Zanu-PF parrots the slogan “MDC are puppets of Bush and Blair” ad nauseam, but here we can see clearly that Zimbabwean local government is a puppet of ZANU-PF and central government. Under an MDC government, local government will be free from control or interference by central government. The people’s right to choose the representatives they want will be respected, and their representatives will be answerable to them, not to central government.

We are a very long way from having democracy at grassroots level in Zimbabwe , as long as Zanu-PF remains in power.

Trudy Stevenson, Shadow Minister of Local Government and Housing, MDC

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