New dawn for local authorities


BY Paidamoyo Muzulu
Is this a plot by Zanu PF to claim all success, especially in tangible educational and health facilities, water, roads and electricity?

If the central government, a government that has long failed in providing service delivery, takes over the role of funding education and health facilities, water roads and electricity, will this not further collapse service delivery?

For a moment, let us put this all aside and see how the system will function in reality.

Zanu PF has a head-start over the opposition in cadre deployment. The political parties will become more powerful as they will use a State-given template in selecting candidates for public office in local authorities.

The opposition will have a new kind of headache. Since 2000, it has been the brave activists who became candidates. They had nothing to lose against Zanu PF political violence, which the educated and working class feared.

How will the opposition activists who braved to put their lives on the line react? Will they stop their political activism and leave the room to the educated to campaign on their own?

Will this new law perpetually make the poor and peasants stop dreaming about holding public office?

This brings us to another issue. Is it not prudent that the law should have been changed in a manner that creates a new electoral system?

Can Zimbabwe do better by simply adopting proportional representation at local authorities? This kills two birds with one stone. Parties will have the leeway to draw party lists based on nominations from party structures.

The brave activists will, at the same time, feel useful if they have a voice in selecting those who will be put on party lists.

However, the downside is  that there is no guarantee that the educated councillors are not corrupt or will not mismanage the affairs of local authorities.

This is a crossroad moment for Zimbabweans. It is an issue that needs a candid debate nationally on what is a leader and how they should be selected. Why was the same principle not applied to parliament or the office of the president?

Zimbabwe has witnessed the collapse of state-owned enterprises over the decades. The mismanagement has largely been done by Zanu PF’s educated deployees since independence. This could be another diversionary tactic or simply a way to push the opposition from control of local authorities. Time will tell.

  • Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.