By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) says it has embarked on a programme to fight corruption and promote good governance in its structures by crafting a conflict of interest policy to guide the operations of management and councillors.
Under the policy, councillors and management are, among other things, supposed to recuse themselves from matters involving their personal or business interests, in particular on tender issues.
The conflict of interest public policy falls under section 34 of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act of 2018.
It states that any officer who violates the Act “shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment”.
It fulfils provisions of Chapter 9 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which provides for the administration of public institutions or government-controlled entities to promote efficiency, competence, accountability, transparency,
personal integrity and financial probity.
Town clerk Christopher Dube said the local authority wants to promote good governance in council, hence the push to adopt the conflict of interest policy to guide management and councillors.
“It is provided for in the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act of 2018 and as council, we also have to be seen to be doing something about it to make sure that we declare our assets…because we cannot be seen to be making
decisions when we are conflicted,” Dube said.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the policy was long overdue.
“It’s a step in the right direction to curtail councillors in graft. As residents, we are going to ensure that council implements it to the letter and spirit. We need to hold council to account,” Ndlovu noted.
Recently, council succumbed to pressure from residents and other stakeholders to adopt an asset and liabilities declaration policy requiring that all councillors declare assets and financial interests. This is in line with section
198 of the Constitution which stipulates that senior public officials should declare their assets, income and financial interests as a matter of principle.
The policy, among others, requires councillors to provide information regarding employment, personal details of spouses, names of dependants, financial statements, incomes (including income from investments, salaries and
emoluments), assets (including, but not limited to land, buildings, vehicles and financial obligations owed to councillors) and the value of those assets.