THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (Bpra) says it is ready to block the imposition of special interest councillors by the government.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Bpra was responding to former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s recent announcement that he was planning to appoint special interest councillors to “provide special expertise and improve service delivery.”
Chombo was on Monday reassigned to the Home Affairs portfolio by President Robert Mugabe and was replaced by Saviour Kasukuwere.
Bulawayo has resisted the appointment of special interest councillors saying they were meant to smuggle Zanu PF politicians through the back door after they lost elections. Bpra said Kasukuwere would face the same opposition as Chombo if he tried to revive the issue of special interest councillors.
Chombo had several run-ins with local authorities over special interest councillors, with the opposition saying he was deliberately appointing them to undermine MDC-run councils.
“The association, through its members shall continue to push for such resistance against moves at imposition of councillors, in the interest of promoting democratic standards in local governance,” Zibusiso Dube, Bpra information manager said in a written response to Southern Eye.
He said Bpra believed that special interest councillors should not be appointed by the Local Government minister as this amounted to having a political figure imposed on residents.
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“Bpra maintains its position that the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) invests too much power in the minister of Local Government, giving him too much leeway to undemocratically dictate the conduct of local authorities without consulting residents,” Dube added.
He said all councillors should be elected by residents or chosen by special interest groups.
“For instance associations of people living with disabilities should be the ones selecting a councillor to represent disabled people and this should take place in the locality in which the councillor would operate from,” Dube said.
“It is imperative to reiterate that Bulawayo residents, under the aegis of Bpra have in the past managed to block imposition of special interest councillors by Local Government minister.
“The association, through its members shall continue to push for such resistance of moves at imposition of councillors in the interest of promoting democratic standards in local governance.”
In 2012, Chombo was taken to the High Court by Matobo villagers who sought the dismissal of four Zanu PF members imposed as special interest councillors after losing elections in 2008.
High Court judge Justice Maphios Cheda ruled in favour of the villagers. Kasukuwere could not be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.