‘Lack of Local Government Board stifles councils’

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Marian Chombo

BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

DELAYS by the Local Government ministry in appointing Local Government Board (LGB) members have reportedly stifled council operations as they cannot hire qualified executives.

The Local Government Board is appointed by the Local Government minister and is responsible for approving executive appointments in local authorities.

Deteriorating service delivery in most local authorities, under-performing budgets and misplaced priorities has become the order of the day in major cities and towns around the country.

Currently, most councils are facing challenges ranging from poor corporate governance, obsolete and dilapidated infrastructure as most influential positions are being held by under-qualified and inexperienced personnel on temporary basis.

Since President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascension to power in 2017 through a military coup, the board has not been appointed.

Local Government deputy minister Marian Chombo said her ministry was aware of the problem.

“We are aware of the problem and we are now at an advanced stage in ensuring that board is appointed in the very near future. We have so far shortlisted a number of candidates for appointment as part of the board,” Chombo said.

Harare City Council is being run by executives in acting capacity after the entire top brass was suspended over land scandals.

In 2019, Kwekwe City Council lamented the absence of the board to appoint the successor for retired town clerk Emmanuel Musara, a year after his retirement.

MDC Alliance secretary for local government and rural development, Sesel Zvidzai said under the provisions of the new Constitution, particularly Chapter 14 which talks on devolution, local authorities should manage their own initiatives without undue interference from central government.

“What this means is that they must have political autonomy, administrative autonomy, fiscal autonomy and so forth,” he said.

“With respect to administrative autonomy, it’s clear that local authorities should be able to employ, reward and even punish their employees on their own based on their own needs and extant exigencies.

“The Local Government Board is a creature that exists ultra vires the Constitution of the land.”

He added: “It is an unnecessary tool that falls foul of the Constitution. It is the one that purports to have the mandate of employing senior council staff and determines their conditions of service and dismissal of same when need arises.

“In short, there is no room for a Local Government Board in our local governance geometry. Devolved sub-national government should be allowed to employ their own staff.”

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