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Stop politicising local governance issues, Chombo urged
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
June 23, 2011

The impromptu dismissal of councillors hinging on abuse of power by the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Ignatius Chombo and lack of transparency, and accountability have impacted negatively on social service delivery across the country. Against this background, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) held a public meeting at the New Ambassador Hotel under the theme, "Suspension and dismissal of elected councillors: is it justified or a threat to Democratic Local Governance?" The meeting was meant to create a platform for policy makers, civil society representatives and Harare residents to discuss the state of affairs in the Local Government Ministry and its implications on social service delivery. Panelists included Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Hon Sessel Zvidzai, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio on Local Government Hon Karenye, and Crisis Coalition's Programs Manager Pedzisayi Ruhanya.

Participants expressed concern at the lack of effective representation in local governance issues and highlighted that the dismissal of the councillors is unjustified and based on political reasons at the expense of the rights of communities. They also noted that such situations are not yet guided by the principles of social justice, participation, transparency and accountability.

The following issues were raised at the meeting;

  • The Urban Council's Act gives exclusive executive powers to the Minister and needs to be overhauled in order to reduce his powers and to promote the participation of citizens in the administration and running of local authorities.
  • Corrective and legal measures should be taken against corrupt government officials and minister regardless of their political affiliations.
  • The dismissal of elected councillors should not be due to political differences, preferences or interests but should be based on substantive issues related to councillors' performance and accountablitiy in the discharge of their mandate.

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