‘Minister of local government’s meddling hurts councils’ performance’

The meddling of the Minister of Local Government and Public Works in the operations of local authorities had a negative impact on their performance.

The Urban Councils Act empowers the Minister of Local Government to give direction to the local councils concerning the administration, control and management of councils.

This power has been used to suspend mayors of oppo opposition-led councils and interfere in other aspects of council operations.

This came out during a discussion on This Morning on Asakhe, a CITE Twitter Spaces discussion, on the performance of local authorities in the last five years.

Finos Kamunda, a participant, said the Minister of Local Government had a bearing on the performance of the local authorities.

“We cannot at the moment measure the performance of local authorities if we are not to equate it with the performance of the government because their performance is much hinged on what the government is also doing,” said Kamunda.

He said in the past years, the Minister of Local Government July Moyo has been suspending mayors of local authorities who wasted time battling court cases.

“In most cases what we are seeing, from 2008, the mayors of the opposition parties have not been performing well because of the intervention of the government for example we had the minister of Local Government who has been suspending mayors from the times of Ellias Mudzuri, Shoko and so forth, suspending them and taking time in courts may be trying to fight their way back into the management of councils and so forth,” said Kamunda.

He also said poor revenue collection affected the performance of the local authorities.

“We also have to look at the revenue that our councils are getting against the expenditure which we have, the government for example that was in 2013 If I am not mistaken, Minister Chombo just came up and cancelled the debt of all local residents, how much money was that and where on earth would you expect council to rise from that. All those issues have got an effect on how our councils are performing,” said Kamunda.

Another participant concurred that the role of the Local Government affected the performance of the outgoing councillors.

“We can hold the councillors accountable for what is happening, if you are elected into office you have to perform, the slate of 2018 candidates was mediocre from council and parliamentary level, it was mediocre and the outcomes are easy to see but at the same time as poor as candidates, councillors have performed, there is the issue of the local government. The power that the ministry of local government and ZANU-PF has as the governing party of the country,” he said.

He added that the performance of local authorities is limited by the power that the local government has over local authorities.

“The slate of 2018 councillors in Bulawayo is so mediocre, terrible, you cannot compare them to Japhet Ndabeni Ncube even Siwela and other mayors and councillors who used to work and think outside the box, how can we get around these issues but the thing at the end of the day, ZANU-PF has destroyed Zimbabwe. As much as they can try to perform, it’s limited by the power that the local government has over local authorities, so there is that at the end of the day,” he said.

Meanwhile, another participant, James, said the issue of mismanagement also affected the performance of the local authorities.

“We need to recognize that our economy is not functioning, you have a council that is being paid in RTGS which doesn’t actually hold any value to assist or help city council, it’s a painful fact but it’s a fact.

“The other issue is mismanagement, maybe due to the administration, we have the administration and the councillors, between these two, you find that most of the times these two don’t actually go hand in hand. The administration pushes a certain narrative, the councillors also push a certain narrative,” he said.

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