Parliament must clarify provincial council roles

Parliament must streamline the local government legislation so that there is clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the provincial councils, a political and economic analyst has said.

Speaking on This Morning on Asakhe on the roles of provincial councils, Liberty Bhebhe said the devolution clause in the Constitution creates a lot of complications in the local government landscape.

“Bulawayo as a metropolitan province, there is going to be local authority which is the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) but also there is going to be a Metropolitan province or council which is going to be broader. The council itself is elected plus the proportional representation councillors and the provincial council will then add into these, the Members of Parliament that fall within the province of Bulawayo,” said Bhebhe.

Bhebhe said the role of the provincial metropolitan council is actually to preside over developmental initiatives of the province and it is clearly explained in the constitution.

“They have the responsibility to oversee or come up with developmental initiatives. Two, they have the responsibility to monitor and evaluate developmental projects that are there. Three, they have a judiciary responsibility; four they have the responsibility to actually come up with a mechanism for auditing projects that are happening in the province. So that responsibility is clearly explained in the constitution,”

Bhebhe added that the confusion is on who should chair the provincial metropolitans.

“The complication is that, what is not yet explained, I think the constitution clearly explains it, that these provincial metropolitan councils would be chaired by the mayors of cities. The amendment in the local government legislation brings in the office of the governor. The office of the governor is not in the constitution, and is not explained as a role that will play a part in the provincial metropolitan within the constitution but now it is being explained in the amendment legislation which now brings in a whole complication.”

He however said the constitution is clear that the mayors of the Metropolitan councils will chair the meetings.

“The second complication you find is that there is no clarity in terms of the difference between BCC as an Urban Council and the Provincial Metropolitan Council which is the council that seats in the province, so for other provinces its very clear because what you just do is if you look at Matabeleland North, for example, it has 13 Districts so it has 13 councils, all those councils they come together and form the provincial council and there is a distinct difference when they go back to Lupane they become Ukusile RDC but when they come to the Provincial Council they are playing a different role,” he said.

“But with the Metropolitan Council, there is this overlapping responsibility which needs to be explained. I think that our local government legislation has not adequately explained in terms of difference so there is going to be continuous conflict but generally, their role is explained in the constitution.”

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