A window of opportunity lies in parliament where we are hoping for a meaningful reform of the Act. Unfortunately, those who are supposed to spearhead the change are trying to block the process with Zanu PF arguing that MDC-T is smuggling in bills which are not supposed to be discussed in parliament.
To that end, Chombo has proposed that the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development be in charge of local government legislation reform and has also indicated that the ministry would soon be doing its own consultations. Combined Harare Residents’ Association has since dismissed the assertions by the minister as a joke.
Minister Chombo cannot be in charge of local government reform because he is an interested party in this whole saga. Zimbabwe cannot entrust the man who has been at the helm of abusing the Act with the duty of coming up with reforms that will draw the people closer to their local governments.
We demand that the debate on the Act proceeds in the spirit of the initial motion raised and that consultations be done by the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development while civil society feeds into that process as well.
If there is going to be any reform, it has got to be meaningful and ultra-vires political influence. Chombo is capable of instituting reforms that have got the potential of suffocating the limited democratic space that the current Act provides, hence the need for him not to be involved.
CHRA and other civil society organisations that have an interest in local government are concerned with the following:
The power of the minister to suspend councillors,
The functions of the local government board,
Appointment of commissions,
The ceremonial status of mayors,
Council revenue and audits and non-recognition of Residents Associations.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
CHRA remains committed to good local governance practiced on a non partisan basis
Quibusd antiunt, Ferrente