By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PIZ) a Bulawayo based Civil Society Organization (CSOs) on Tuesday appeared before the portfolio committee of Local Government Rural and Urban Development following a petition dated 25 February 2016.
The petition which beard 57 signatures from Bulawayo based organizations demanded answers why Government hasn’t aligned the Urban Councils Act with Chapter 14 of the new Constitution.
Part of the petition reads that the CSOs were disturbed that the country local governance architecture had remained unchanged since the enactment of the constitution and had failed to take cognizance of the existence of Chapter 14 which gives emphases on devolution of local authorities.
PIZ said it was concerned that citizens were unable to influence and participate in decision making, which is the basis of constitutional democracy.
PIZ director Dr Samukele Hadebe said there was an urgent need to move with time as three years had already passed without the alignment.
“As CSOs we are concerned about broad-based consultations during implementation, we have witnessed so much encroachment by the central government in local authorities”, Dr Hadebe said.
Binga South legislator Joel Gabbuza pulled a shocker when he told the committee most Parliamentarians were not even aware what is meant by devolution thereby further proposing the cash-strapped Government to organize a workshop to school the MPs. “We suggest Government to plan a trip to a country where devolution exists for familiarization.”
Buhera South legislator Hon Joseph Chinotimba said the financial constraint facing the country was hindering the alignment of laws citing that Government still owed civil servants their bonuses while legislators were surviving on allowances.
Dr Hadebe objected Chinotimba’s sentiments saying Government had already aligned some laws with the new constitution.
MP Matimba pleaded with the CSOs to help Government finance some of its projects owing liquidity crunch facing the country however; chairman of the committee Webster Mawondera revolted the begging MP saying it was not admissible to ask a witness to help government.
Mawondera assured the witness that leader of the house Vice-President Mnangagwa was working around the clock to make sure the alignment was done to enable local authorities to run independently.
Currently City of Harare (CoH) is at loggerheads with local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere after bypassing some procedures when the city fathers appointed Town Clerk James Mushore who was dethroned the same day he was appointed.
Kasukuwere contested the appointment arguing it was against the urban councils act, as if that was not enough he further went on to suspend Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni.