ZANU PF Stalling the Democratization Process

The state owned Herald newspaper reported that ZANU PF is against the move which is set to see parliament debate the urban councils act, human rights bill and the amendments to the Public Order and Security Act.

In the story, ZANU PF Chief Whip in parliament, Mr. Joram Gumbo argued that since all these are contained in article 20 of the Global Political Agreement and cannot be discussed in parliament due to the prevailing technicality. However many civil society organizations have been advocating for the debating and possible action on these mentioned bills in a bid to democratize the civil and political space.

Since time in memory, CHRA has been calling for the reform of the urban councils act and harmonization of all local government legislation in order to democratize local governance in Zimbabwe.

Legal practitioner Belinda Chinowawa from the Zimbabwe Lawyer for Human Rights has rubbished the claims by ZANU PF legislators arguing that anything called a bill should simply pass through parliament. She added that ZANU PF cannot raise that argument now because several bills have been passed in parliament despite the fact that they are provided or contained in the GPA.

Local government space has been suffocated with no provision for meaningful residents’ participation and recognition of Residents Associations while the power of recall on non performing (elected) actors has been left to the minister alone who uses his discretion in deciding what action to take. To date, the minister Chombo has fired at least 27 councilors and one Mayor of which most of the affected councilors are MDC councilors.

Naturally, people have come to the conclusion that the Minister is using his powers to reverse losses that befell his political party in the 2008 local government election. To that end, our position is that the second reading of the urban councils act must proceed without fail. We demand the following issues to be part of the parliamentary debate on the urban councils Act amendment:

· The act should recognize residents associations

· Power of recall should be given to residents instead of the Minister

· If possible, discussions around harmonizing all local government legislation should commence

· The appointment of special interest councilors should be done in consultation with residents and special interest groups

CHRA remains committed to good local governance practiced on a non partisan basis

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