Govt plans to ring-fence Councils’ waste management funds criticised

...move described as hypocrisy

Government says it is working on a Statutory Instrument (SI) to make sure funds collected by councils for waste management are ring-fenced so that authorities do not divert the funds for other purposes, a move described as hypocritical amid allegations that the government has been diverting money collected from various streams.

Those funds will reportedly be managed by the Environment Management Agency (EMA). 

This action follows Cabinet’s consideration and adoption of measures to solve the country’s solid waste management concerns, particularly in urban areas, as presented by Minister of Environment, Climate, and Wildlife Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu.

Cabinet examined the “deplorable state of cleanliness across the country, particularly in urban areas is due to local authorities’ ineptitude and negligence in collecting and managing solid waste disposal. “

Noting that the mismanagement of solid waste persists, Cabinet approved that a SI will be promulgated to make the National Clean Up Programme compulsory for Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Local Authorities, the business sector, vendors, retailers and manufacturers.

“Local Authorities should localise the SI by promulgation of the relevant by-laws. Funds collected by Local Authorities from residents for waste management will be ring-fenced in-order to ensure that the Authorities do not divert the funds to other uses, with EMA supervising the usage of the funds,” it was said during the post-Cabinet briefing.

“Deterrent fines for public littering will be introduced and enforced, and repeat offenders charged with no option of a fine but given mandatory community service.”

However, some citizens have characterised the move as another attempt by the government to meddle in the operations of local governments, given that the Local Government and Public Works Ministry has been accused of stifling progress by imposing unnecessary bureaucracy that affects service delivery, particularly in councils run by the opposition.

Bulawayo Mayor, David Coltart, tweeted that: “Ironically the Zanu PF regime allows funds collected from, for example, the citizens of Bulawayo to be diverted to other uses including a string of luxury vehicles for the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) Bulawayo gets back a fraction of the money paid to Zinara for its own roads.”

Deputy Mayor of Harare, Kudzai Kadzombe also stated on her X account that:

“The waste management funds are already ring- fenced, the greatest challenge is the value of the ZWL. Rates are paid but you can only buy something with that money after converting it to US.”

In an interview with CITE, ZAPU National Organiser, Ndodana Moyo, expressed concern about the rate at which the government was issuing SIs while avoiding Parliament for accountability and transparency.

“We are concerned because this demonstrates that public officials do not want to account to the people whom Parliament represents. The number of SIs in Zimbabwe indicates that the country is now ruled by SIs. Furthermore, why should money be taken to councils then given to EMA?” Moyo questioned.

He added that: “SIs must be restricted, otherwise, we shall wake up to new laws every day and wonder where they came from and what they intend to achieve.”

Moyo went on to say that the government should return executive powers to mayors and chairpersons of rural district councils.

“People will then be able to demand accountability from their local councils because what is happening now is councils are blaming the government for interfering and stifling them while the government will say they are underperforming,” said the ZAPU official.

Interim CCC Bulawayo Provincial Spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza,  describes the move as hypocritical of the Zanu PF government, which collects revenue and channels it to other purposes.

“Let’s talk about ZINARA and tollgate fees; do they do their job? Government should speak about ZINARA, whose funds should be disbursed in accordance with the Zimbabwean Constitution, which recognises devolution in the management of local resources,” Chirowodza stated.

“Therefore this is a ruse. The central government wants to reduce the authority of local councils and have access to the money in the custody of local authorities. You will therefore get all sorts of excuses to meddle in local councils’ affairs.”

Chirowodza expressed regret that the Zanu PF-led government occasionally issued instructions or made policy announcements that were detrimental to local councils,

“We must be talking about devolution, where councils, elected by residents are supposed to be carrying out the mandate they were elected for, but we consider this move an attempt to seize control of those functions and revenue and hand it over to another department, which should be subservient to council,” summed the CCC official.

Meanwhile, Cabinet said central Government has made interventions to redress the state of cleanliness across Zimbabwe, including introduction of the National Clean Up Campaign in 2018 and declaration of a State of Disaster in Harare Metropolitan Province in 2023.

Cabinet said an Emergency Solid Waste Management Programme is currently under implementation under the State of Disaster declaration, however, it was noted the mismanagement of solid waste persists.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

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

Back to top button