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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Are minimum qualifications for local councillors panacea
    Tawanda Zinyama and Precious Shumba
    August 04, 2013

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    That local councillors are crucial to ensure good local governance and development is beyond dispute and cannot be overemphasised. The current crop of elected councillors has been found wanting in all facets of local government, be it corporate governance issues and quality service delivery. What is the real problem? Is the political system a problem? Are the councillors not qualified for the job?

    In this article, the authors will attempt to unpack the issue of setting minimum academic qualifications for Zimbabwean councillors, while also critiquing the policy framework under which the councillors have to operate as provided in various pieces of legislation governing the running and administration of local authorities.

    The major crisis that the local authorities have is that the councillors are not doing what the electorate put them into office to do. Throughout all the local authorities in Zimbabwe, there is tellingly and persuasively evident of poor judgment that has uncovered the pitiable calibre of politicians the electorate has catapulted into the local authorities. There is massive corruption in almost all local authorities. However, this problem is now institutionalised in Zimbabwe. Indeed, Zimbabwe is now facing the real danger of becoming a culturally corrupt and fraudulent nation. The penchant for luxury is regrettable. There is something wrong with the Zimbabwean political system. As a nation we need to address this problem and we cannot continue harvesting thorns from the current crop of councillors. There is chronic corruption in local authorities which has contributed significantly to poverty, inequality, miss targeting and inefficiency in social spending programmes.

    There are three possible explanations for these undesirable scenarios:

    • The councillors joined local authorities with virtually no experience and expertise in local governance, especially how to relate with the citizenry;
    • The quality of councillors in analysing legislation and the budget is extremely poor. They cannot unpack the relevant pieces of legislation, i.e. Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15, the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act Chapter 29:12 and Rural District Council Act Chapter 29:13; and
    • The dearth of policy formulation and budget analysis skills and competencies in the local authorities is deplorable.

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    *Tawanda Zinyama is a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe Department of Political and Administrative Studies while Precious Shumba is the founder and director of the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT), a Harare-based residents’ organisation.

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