Resident’s groups under the banner We Pay, You Deliver Consortium have demanded that political parties participating in this year’s polls field educated councillors, who are able to grasp the social developmental challenges crippling local authorities.
NQOBANI NDLOVU/XOLISANI NCUBE
This came as most cities are said to be serviced by underperforming councillors, which has resulted in poor service delivery across municipalities.
The consortium in its survey released on Wednesday in Harare said political parties must field people with the ability to lead municipalities and having an understanding of the challenges faced by local authorities, especially civil engineering and social economics.
“The performance of sitting councillors was rated as poor by 44,7% of the respondents. Political parties must, therefore, critically assess sitting councillors seeking re-election. Further, political parties are urged to evaluate the credentials of council candidates during primary elections. Such evaluation includes having party criteria for candidate selection, which is competence and integrity-based,” the report read in part.
This came at a time when residents’ associations have been up in arms with their councillors for poor service delivery, as seen by their failure to ensure reliable potable water to avoid cholera outbreaks.
The CSO’s local government elections survey report titled The Uncertainty of 2018 was conducted between August and October 2017 and saw its enumerators visiting Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and Harare.
The survey focused on three issues concerning local government elections; the context, awareness and expectations and process dynamics.
Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni agreed on the need to have minimum qualifications for councillors, as most of them are chosen on a popularity basis with some unable to read or write.
“I support the idea of having a minimum qualification for one to be a councillor. The work of local government is huge and would require a certain degree of education and ability to tackle challenges faced thereof through acquired skills,” Manyenyeni said.
The report stated that political parties must examine their local authority candidates and evaluate their abilities, as opposed to base the selection on popularity.
“Based on the last 2 or 3 elections, more than 70% indicated that they did not change the party that they voted for, for councillors. Such a voting behaviour points to an electorate with consistent voting preferences. Political parties enjoying such loyalty need to reciprocate by fielding competent candidates committed to changing service delivery in cities.”
The consortium comprises of Danish Church Aid, Combined Harare Residents’ Association, Harare Residents’ Trust, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, Habakkuk Trust and Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre Network and Diakona.
Some political parties have also come in support of the idea.
“It is not all about qualifications, but what we are need are people with integrity, people who will not steal, but people who will deliver on the job,” Jacob Mafume, the People’s Democratic Party spokesperson said.
Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa said: “As Zapu, besides a minimum qualification for office, we believe councillors must be drawn from local areas, where they want to serve. The poor ratings are largely as a result of imported councillors, who do not care for service delivery to the people of the city.”