The Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HamRef) has applied to the High Court challenging some sections of the Urban Council Act that allow the Executive to interfere with administration of local authorities.
This has followed after the appointment of James Andrew Mushore as the substantive new Harare town clerk which did not go down well with Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Hon. Saviour Kasukuwere who in less than 1 hour after the appointment had written and delivered a letter rescinding the resolution.
In his letter, Hon. Kasukuwere quotes Section 132(1) of the Urban Council Act which states that a council may only appoint a Town Clerk when they have received an approved candidate from the Local government Board as specified in Section 132(2), and may only appoint a person when the board has given its approval.
Marvelous Khumalo the HamRef spokesperson quoted section 2 of the constitution which state that the Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom and conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of inconsistency. It goes further in Section 2(2) to state that the obligations imposed by the Constitution are binding on every person, natural or juristic including the state and all executive, legislative and judicial institutions and must be fulfilled by them.
Basically, this means the Urban Council Act is inconsistent with the Constitution which in Chapter 14 Section 264 (1) states that whenever appropriate, governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively. Section 264(2) goes on to state that the objectives of the devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities are— (a) To give powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them; (b) To promote democratic, effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government in Zimbabwe as a whole; (c) To preserve and foster the peace, national unity and indivisibility of Zimbabwe; (d) To recognize the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development; (e) To ensure the equitable sharing of local and national resources; and (f) To transfer responsibilities and resources from the national government in order to establish a sound financial base for each provincial and metropolitan council and local authority.
HamRef Chairperson, Simba Moyo also said that having acting Town Clerks and acting head of departments’ leads to abuse of office and funds as there will be no transparency or accountability.
Alignment of laws with the Constitution has to be a matter of urgency and an obligation on the part of Ministries and Parliament to ensure that no law contradicts the Constitution to avoid further confusion and conscious selection of laws to suit ones situation. It is a serious violation of the Constitution to continue having inconsistent laws in our statute books.