Local Government ministry is headed for a clash with local authorities after making proposals to centralise the procurement of goods by all councils.
The proposals, which have irked the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) and local authorities, are contained in the general laws amendment bill and are on the Parliament order paper.
If Parliament approves the bill, the State Procurement Board will purchase goods on behalf of local authorities instead of the current situation where each council purchases goods on its own.
The Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is reportedly pushing the proposals citing corruption in most local authorities.
But UCAZ and the local authorities believed the proposals were retrogressive as they would militate against decentralisation efforts.
UCAZ also believes the move would negatively affect service delivery while others view the move as attempts to make local authorities dysfunctional.
UCAZ president Femias Chakabuda said local authorities were united in condemning the proposals and were lobbying the ministry and parliamentarians not to support the bill.
“We are saying it’s not practical because we are dealing with equipment that delivers water and equipment to deal with sewage reticulation. Where a pump breaks down overnight and given the pace at which the state procurement board moves, it will be reckless not to act,” he said.
“It also negates the spirit of decentralization.”
Local government deputy minister, Sesel Zvidzai confirmed that the proposal was on the cards although he professed ignorance on who had made the recommendations.
He however said his personal opinion was that the proposals were counterproductive and also meant to disable local authorities.
“People are informed by the past where competencies transformed from local government to central government have had disastrous consequences,” he said.
“For example when water delivery and sewer management was taken to Zinwa, the result was a total neglect which led to a cholera outbreak.”
Zvidzai said local authority had peculiarities which demanded that they deal with issues according to their situation.
“Instead the government should produce standards and guidelines and ensure that local authorities stick to them. To me it would appear as though the measures are aimed at rendering local authorities ineffective.”
Chombo could not be reached for comment on Monday evening.