MPs question calibre of councillors

MPs on Thursday expressed concern over the poor calibre of councillors running most municipalities and called for strict selection criteria, which includes educational qualifications and personal integrity.

The call was raised as the MPs debated issues highlighted in the Third Quarter Budget Performance Report for the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development.

Chitungwiza South MP Misheck Shoko (MDC-T) said there was need to reconsider the requirements for aspiring councillors.

“It is necessary that the calibre of the people we are putting into local government is beyond reproach,” he said.

Chiredzi North MP, Ronald Ndaba (Zanu PF), concurred saying officials at most municipalities ended up taking the responsibilities of councillors because the city fathers were incompetent.

“Councillors have no capacity, so councils are now run by officials and this is our problem,” he said.
“Someone can come straight from being a bus conductor and the next moment the person is referred to as a city father.”

Obert Matshalaga (Zanu PF) of Zvishavane, said there was lack of capacity in local authorities in implementing projects.

“We need capacity-building in local authorities because usually when they come in they are lacking in experience in local government.

“We need to train these guys on how to run a council,” he said.

But he said calls by some MPs for Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to resign were emotional, and so there was need to look at the matter from a professional perspective.

A report by the Bulawayo City Council early this month revealed that most councillors had no professional qualifications.

In 2009, Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda highlighted the need for councillors to be competent in fields such as engineering, town planning and finance.

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