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Govt taken to task over idle provincial councillors

Harare senator, Morgen Komichi, has taken the government to task over provincial councillors elected in 2018 who still remain redundant in just less than a year before the expiry of their term of office in the absence of an enabling act.

Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe adopted in 2013 provides for devolution of power from Harare to the country’s 10 provinces recognising the right of communities to manage their affairs and to further their development.

The new charter created eight provincial councils with 10 councillors each, elected through proportional representation.

There are also two metropolitan provincial councils – Harare and Bulawayo – that will spearhead development in these respective cities.

The ruling ZANU-PF party, which has always been opposed to devolution, has since 2013 been dragging its feet in terms of implementing the concept.

The term of office for the first-ever provincial councillors elected in 2013 came to an end before they could be sworn in and chances are high that those elected in 2018 may also not be inaugurated until their term of office expires next year when the country goes for polls.

Speaking in the Senate Thursday, Komichi demanded action from the government on the issue.

“The term is almost over after electing provincial councillors to work in their respective areas,” he decried.

“At the moment, the law that is supposed to guide their operations, where has it ended because there are certain things that need to be put in place which are making it impossible to happen because of this problem?

He added: “We put them on those positions for a purpose in those provinces and nothing is happening. Are you saying their work is no longer necessary until their term is over?”

Responding to Komichi’s concerns, Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister Marian Chombo admitted the Devolution Bill was long overdue.

“I would like to ask for forgiveness because the Bill is overdue,” she said.

“We have tried to ensure that those who have been elected get their dues in order for them to survive and that they are able to do their work. We have since finished everything and the Bill is at the Attorney-General’s Office.”

She added: “The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs told us that their office was overwhelmed by work because they have a huge backlog but he told us that they have been given permission to increase their staff complement in order to expedite such Bills. I cannot tell you when exactly we can expect that Bill but we expect it to come sooner.”

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