CSOs, residents urged to push for devolution

Bulawayo deputy mayor, Councillor Mlandu Ncube, has urged civil society organisations (CSOs) and residents to complement efforts by local authorities to put pressure on the government to effectively implement devolution.

Cllr Ncube made these remarks during a virtual meeting on the role of councillors in a devolved system: understanding the relationship between local government and provincial government.

The meeting is part of the Devolution Check series hosted by Gender Accountability for Peace and Security (GAPS) and the Community Podium.

Cllr Ncube noted that Urban Councils Authority of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), through their legal team, have registered their concerns with regards to what needs to be amended as far as devolution is concerned and are awaiting for the relevant authorities to respond.

“As UCAZ we have put on paper our position with regards to devolution. Last month our legal team went there to engage them on how we wanted devolution to be carried out. What we need to understand is that only two local authorities are much affected by this devolution of power and these are Harare and Bulawayo as they are Metropolitan councils,” said Cllr Ncube.

“As UCAZ we submitted our position to the Ministry. It is important for CSOs and general members of the society to also mount pressure on relevant authorities for action to be taken. We should jointly lobby for the proper implementation of devolution in order to ensure that positive results are yielded.”

Cllr Ncube highlighted that local authorities’ jurisdiction is limited hence Parliamentarians have a great role to play in pushing for the necessary legal frameworks to be put in place.

“As local authorities, we are only in charge of residents’ livelihoods who fall within the jurisdiction of the city council. We only make legislations that govern the by-laws that have to do with the city of Bulawayo. The national legislations are the responsibility of the parliament which is the jurisdiction of members of parliament,” he said.

MP for Bulawayo Central Nicola Watson stated that legislators had also submitted their positions pertaining to the issue and she encouraged members of the public to follow suit in order to exert enough pressure needed to initiate the desired results.

Participants who attended the meeting inquired why local authorities allowed the government to allocate inadequate funds towards earmarked for development projects

“This is taxpayers’ money. It should be used in a transparent manner. Local authorities are the ones meant to remit money to the government, not the other round. Right now Matabeleland people are facing perennial water challenges, if this money was being properly used the Gwayi-Shangani water project would have been at an advanced stage now,” the participants inquired.

In response, Cllr Ncube explained that there are no legal statutes in place which allow local authorities to challenge such as they are still governed by Urban Councils Act. 

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