By Linda Mujuru
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government held a public meeting in Karoi and Chinhoyi yesterday to discuss the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill which was gazetted on the 9th of May 2016. The Bill seeks to amend sections 114 and 157 of the Urban Councils and Rural District Councils Acts to section 278(2) and (3) of the constitution.
The public hearings were generally characterized by a low turnout which residents blamed on poor publicity by parliament. Some of the participants included the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) and Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and community members.
The participants argued that the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill is against the spirit of the constitutional provisions on the devolution of power to local authorities. They said that the Bill gives the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing excessive powers to control local authorities in violation of the principle of devolution enshrined in the Constitution.
Current minister of Local Government, Saviour Kasukuwere has been involved in public fall outs with MDC-T led councils which has led to the suspensions of Mayors in Harare and Gweru undermining service delivery in the process.
Residents also raised concerns on why the Local Government Amendment Bill was being fast-tracked without giving stakeholders enough time to go through the Bill to understand its provisions and their implications.
Delays to align the local government laws with the new constitution has resulted in the ruling party ministers abusing their authority to undermine local government authorities overseen by opposition parties.