By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Despite heavy protest, rejection, mired by violence the Local Government Bill sailed through both houses of Parliament last week and will soon be sent for presidential assents to become an Act of Parliament within twenty one days.
Last week Wednesday in the National Assembly MDC-T and Zanu-PF legislators nearly broke into fist fighting following reports of fast-tracking the Bill by Minister of Local Government and Public Works Saviour Kasukuwere.
The Senate Assembly engaged in a debate on whether Chiefs were supposed to vote or not. MDC-T Senators argued that Chiefs were not supposed to be involved in politics or being affiliated to any political party though they however voted.
Section 281 of the Constitution, under principles to be observed by traditional leaders (2)(a) says; Traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics.
Public hearings on the Bill had to end prematurely after Minister Kasukuwere smuggled the Bill into Parliament.
Harare public hearings at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) saw a participant being attacked; the other hearing at Machipisa in Highfields also ended with heavy violence after some Zanu-PF youth became rowdy shutting down the meeting which had started peacefully.
Zanu-PF youths were of the notion that all powers should be bestowed on the Local Government Minister while MDC-T supporters insisted local authorities were supposed to run independently without interference from the Minister.
The Local Government bill is meant to align the Districts and Rural Councils Act with the new Constitution, on the other hand the Bill will also give the Minister powers to set up a tribunal bearing powers to fire Mayors and Councillors willy-nilly.
Residents association has publicly disowned and condemned the Bill name-calling it a ‘Manyenyeni Bill’.
Last week on Thursday at a joint press conference in the capital Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) and Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) maintained their stance on rejecting the bill.
“The Bill was roundly rejected by Zimbabweans because it ultra vires the Constitution, we note with concern that there is a spirited effort by the Minister and his Zanu-PF colleagues in Parliament to foist this unconstitutional Bill”, reads the statement.
Constitutional lawyer David Hofisi said probability that bills which go for presidential assents will be signed into law are very high after no cases of rejection have been recorded so far, he was addressing bloggers during a three day workshop at Moto Republik.
Observers have castigated the fast-tracking of the Local Government Bill by Kasukuwere three years after the adoption of the constitution.
Zanu-PF may also be taking advantage of the vulnerable MDC-T as Deputy Ministers, Ministers and the two Vice Presidents are the only ones who have constitutional powers to bring in bills which require support from treasury.
A legislator can bring in a Bill to the house as long as it does not require support from treasury.
The MDC-T camp miscalculated it when they recalled defected legislators last year; this reduced their numbers leaving them further vulnerable to Zanu-PF who have majority in both the National and Senate Assembly.