The appointment of the Local Government Board by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works is unconstitutional and serves no purpose except to interfere with the administrative matters in councils across Zimbabwe, the opposition MDC Alliance has said.
The condemnation comes after the government appointed the Local Government Board early this week to be responsible for the selection of the councils’ senior management countrywide.
In creating the board, the Local Government Minister, July Moyo, relied on the provisions of the Urban Councils Act and has since met with the members to give them direction that include regulating conditions of service and termination the employ of senior council staff including town clerks and directors.
But MDC Alliance Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Sesel Zvidzai, trashed the appointments, saying the creation of the board was outside the parameters of the law.
“As repeatedly stated in our reform agenda the local government board is an unconstitutional structure whose existence serves no purpose except to enable the central government to interfere with the administrative matters in councils. It must be abolished,” he said.
“In terms of the constitution, local authorities must enjoy political, fiscal and administrative autonomy so that citizens can enjoy prime service delivery. This is the essence of devolution.”
Zvidzai said the MDC Alliance has observed that the use of the Local Government Board to employ council staff, has in the past, led to the appointment of incompetent individuals.
“Incompetent (ruling) party functionaries who are corrupt and have a toxic obsession with obstructing the smooth functioning of local authorities. This is at the centre of the disharmony and poor performance of most councils,” said the MDC Alliance’s local government secretary.
MDC Alliance’s position has been that local authorities should employ their own staff, so accountability and authority are left to the local authorities, Zvidzai said.
“As opposed to the current situation where the senior staff members employed by local authorities account to Zanu-PF.”
He noted that as a party they condemned the refusal by the Local Government Minister and Zanu-PF to respect the constitution particularly Chapter 14, which provides for devolution of governmental powers to local authorities.
“Such disrespect for the constitution enables Zanu-PF to interfere with local authorities’ work thus affecting service delivery adversely,” Zvidzai said.
“We call upon Minister Moyo to respect the constitution and immediately dismantle the illegal Local Government Board. We reiterate that the constitutional ideal of devolution must be implemented in accordance with our Local Government Agenda to improve service delivery and the performance of local authorities for the benefit of the people.”
The Local Government Board is led by Steven Chakaipa.
Other board members include Professor Campbell Temba Kombe, Maxwell Kaitano, councillor Patricia Mwale, Marjorie Mandaringa, Engineer Tatenda Mawokomatanda and Hamandishe Chinyengetere.
Dadirai Dodo is the board Secretary.