Local authorities need clear guidelines for PR councillors

The government of Zimbabwe has been urged to enact legislation that will clarify how councillors under the Proportional Representation of the Women’s Quota of local authorities will execute their duties.

The call was made by political analyst Effie Ncube and Executive Secretary at Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), Thembelani Dube, following the announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that 30% of the total members of each local authority countrywide will be reserved for women party-list councillors.

In Bulawayo, which has 29 wards, will have 9 PR councillors.

Ncube welcomed the development, saying it would enhance the representation of women in council. However, he noted that there was a need for legal frameworks to be put in place to guide the PR councillors on how they are supposed to carry out their duties.

“It is quite good that we have them because in certain areas you may find that there would be very limited women in council. This will ensure that women’s issues are addressed at local authority level,” Ncube said.

“However, there is a need to have a clear piece of legislation that will speak to how the PR councillors will work. They are not allocated specific wards, they do not have specific jurisdictions therefore they must be assisted by being given specific laws that will spell out how they conduct their duties.”

Ncube said failure to have such legislation would create a scenario in which the PR councillors may fail to fulfill their mandate and get blamed for not delivering.

“They will also need to be trained and well-capacitated on what is expected of them. There must be specifications on their participation in full council meetings, also on how they work with elected councillors because there may be scenarios where a PR councillor may come from a different political party than the elected councillor,” he said.

Dube concurred with Ncube on the need for legislation, but also expressed concern that the PR councillors would be a burden to local authorities that are already struggling with resources for service delivery.

“The local authority PR councillors are a new phenomenon not enshrined in the Republic of Zimbabwe constitution of 2013. There should be an act that legalizes them for them to execute their duties legally. Their roles must be recognized by the constitution like all other public office bearers and must be clearly clarified on the Councils Act governing operations of local authorities. They must also be fully incorporated into the local authority committees that are set up,” Dube said.

“The PR councillors are also an additional load to the already overburdened local authority purses since the additional 30% female local policymakers must be given sitting monthly allowances like all councillors. For effective service delivery in local authorities to occur, it doesn’t need a seventy-two seat bus full of councillors but determined, servant leadership and accountable councillors.”

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