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Update on national consultations on the Urban Councils Act
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
December 17, 2012

CHRA embarked on a national process meant to unearth people's views on the Urban Councils Act, which will be tabled before the parliamentary portfolio committee on local government should the Supreme Court rule in favour of parliament. These consultations come against a backdrop of a motion moved by Hon. Tangwara Matimba of Buhera, to amend the urban council's act sighting excessive powers given to the minister of local government Rural and Urban Development.

The consultations were done in Harare, Bindura, Bulawayo, Gwanda, Kadoma, Gweru, Marondera, Mutare and Kariba. The teams that went to these areas had a list of questions with which residents debated upon.

There were 12 thematic areas of debate as highlighted below:

  • Suspension of elected councilors (Who should suspend)
  • Appointment of special interest councilors
  • Water as a human right
  • Local authorities annual audits (legal mandatory annual release)
  • Local government board vis-a-vis local government commission
  • Appointment of the local government board
  • Functions of City fathers (ceremonial/executive)
  • Participatory budgets and budget tracking
  • Legal recognition of resident's associations
  • Power's of recall
  • Local authorities financing
  • Payment and appointment of commissions of enquiry in local authorities

Note: The debates were not only confined to these areas as other contentious issues would at time emerge depending on issues affecting the area. Residents in general expressed dissatisfaction on many legal provisions as stipulated in the urban council's act as it was unanimous that currently there is too much central government operating in local government. This spelt the need to come up with a three tier local government which operates at central government level, then provincial and local government. Residents expressed their desire for government playing an oversight role in terms of policy implementation and formulation. Residents in Matabeleland pointed out the need for central government players to release funds that will be distributed according to province reaching out to the local authority. This then means that the act should compel each councilor (at ward level) to come up with an annual development plan which is then consolidated and send out to the provincial government and funds are released.

The Association is finalizing a report which will be sent out to all our partners and interested stakeholders on the findings. On Wednesday, leaders of residents associations will gather in Harare to validate the findings and adopt the final document.

Visit the CHRA fact sheet

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