Stakeholders dismiss local authority draft bills

Stakeholders have dismissed as unconstitutional, the Local Authorities Bill and the Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Administration Bill prepared by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

Biggie Joel Matiza
Biggie Joel Matiza

Representatives of town clerks, Rural District Council chief executive officers, traditional chiefs, residents associations, non- governmental organisations and educational institutions, among others, agreed at a consultative workshop held in Harare today that the ministry should restart the drafting process as it was not inclusive in its consultations and against the spirit of the new constitution.

Among several cited unconstitutionalities of the draft bills were powers vested in the Head of State, the relevant minister and the appointed ‘independent’ tribunal to determine activities and programmes at local authorities.

The drafts are silent on how the constitutionally enshrined devolution of power would be carried out.

“A section in the drafts that gives the president powers to demarcate electoral boundaries is unconstitutional since that role is a preserve of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

“It would be against the supreme law of the land for the responsible minister to direct local authority policies and appoint tribunals to oversee some human resource aspects of the institutions as the drafts intends to achieve,” noted the stakeholders.

It was indicated that local authorities should exercise their independence by employing own staff and be guided by labour laws like any other employer.

The draft bills had suggested that the Local Board be responsible for the recruitment of senior staff at local authorities.

David Matumbike, the representative of NGOs, told the meeting that stakeholders were not given enough time to study the draft and consult their constituencies before making contributions to the consultative meeting.

“The ministry should simply go back to the drawing board, adopt a consultative approach towards making of the draft bills and remain guided by the constitution,” said Matumbike, emphasising that the drafts were ultra vires to the constitution.

According to Matumbike, the three pillars of democracy reflected through separation of power and participation of citizens were not sufficiently addressed in the process and content of drafts.

Residents’ associations said the draft did not show interest in devolution as suggested by the appointment of provincial ministers of state by President Robert Mugabe against the constitution.

The fact that the proposed local authority tribunals would be appointed by the minister exposes the desire by the executive to control activities at local authorities and thus undermine the spirit of devolution of power, noted the stakeholders.

Town clerks said local authorities should engage in commercial projects through council resolutions not as decided by the minister.

The ministry set September 15, 2014 as the deadline for stakeholders’ input.

The final draft bill would be completed before end of the month and go through both houses of parliament and presidential approval like any other law.

Biggie Joel Matiza, the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, said the bills drafting process would result in the alignment of the laws with the constitution.

Zimbabwe has more than 400 laws yet to be aligned with the supreme law of the land.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *