'Local Govt Act unconstitutional'

HARARE - Observers have described the recently enacted Local Government Amendment Act — as an unconstitutional piece of legislation that is aimed at crippling municipalities that are run by the MDC ahead of the 2018 elections.

The Act, which became operational last week, allows Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere to suspend elected councillors and replace them with commissions.

According to the Act, the minister can under reasonable grounds suspend a councillor or chairperson if they suspect them of gross incompetence and misconduct.

Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe (CCDZ) director Philip Pasirayi said the enactment of the law shows a lack of commitment by government to comprehensively align local government laws with the Constitution.

Pasirayi said the Act only provides for mechanism to deal with mayors, councillors and chairpersons while ignoring pertinent issues such as devolution of power.

He added that the Act also does not limit the power of the minister but instead increases them, threatening to destabilise local authorities run by the opposition.

“The Act is another instrument by Zanu PF to provide legal basis to dismiss democratically elected mayors and council chairpersons and appoint Commissions to run local authorities. These Commissions are appointed by the minister and this means they will serve his interests.”

Pasirayi also said there is nothing independent about the Tribunal as it will be mostly composed of Zanu PF sympathisers.

“The passing of this Act is a strategy by the Zanu PF government to consolidate power ahead of the 2018 elections,” he said.

In what has been described as an attempt to entice the urban vote, Zanu PF is doling out stands in most major cities even without the involvement of local authorities.

“The scheme that is being rolled out by Kasukuwere in different parts of the country will only benefit Zanu PF youths and no one else,” said Pasirayi.

On the other hand, social activist Mfundo Mlilo said the enactment is debatable and can be contested since in did not follow due process.

He said the Act, which gives the minister the power to appoint members of an Independent Tribunal, is already compromised and thus could be challenged in the Constitutional Court.

Mlilo said the Act will only fuel more corruption in towns and cities which are already struggling financially.

He said judging from past experiences, commissions have often run down local authorities, resulting in the collapse of service delivery.

“The Act usurps the power of the Constitution as it centralises power in the State instead of devolution.

“It also presents a danger to councillors and mayors as they can be easily attacked by government. And because government is broke, local authorities are their cash cow.

“However, if they have councillors and mayors who do not conform to their ideologies they will appoint commissions which have a long history of running down councils. MDC councillors like (Harare mayor Bernard) Manyenyeni are seriously under threat,” he said.

After the dismissal of Elias Mudzuri in April 2004 as Harare mayor, Sekesai Makwavarara was appointed to head the commission that ran the capital city until 2008.

During her tenure, Harare was dogged by controversy and also characterised by myriad problems that included erratic water supplies, burst water and sewer pipes, poor road maintenance, uncollected refuse and dysfunctional street and traffic lights.

Makwavarara’s term as the commission chairperson also saw a large number of people die of cholera due to poor sanitation facilities.

Comments (1)

ZANU PF is a failure, they can offer stands to the youth as much as they want yes, however the youth will soon realize that its not so much the stand that matters but the capital to develop the stand and continued stay on that stand eating and going to work which requires a functioning economy which ZANU PF does not have. The same youth will realize that soon he will need a job and taxi fares like any urban citizen. Mugabe and his party will not afford that, they are the same people now filling up the demos and practising vending as a survival. That is not life.

amina - 7 September 2016

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