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'Uneducated' politicians to be locked out of Zimbabwe councils

by Staff reporter
17 Apr 2023 at 01:45hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT is finalising a new law to bar politicians without tertiary education qualifications from running for local authority seats in a development meant to restore competency and improve service delivery.

The Attorney-General (AG)'s office is currently drafting amendments to the Rural Districts Council Act, which seeks, among other things, to fix qualifications for those running for council office.

Among other provisions, the amendments will provide regulations for suspension and removal of councillors from office and procedures for the appointment and operations of independent tribunals.

In addition, the amendment Bill will also set guidelines for the incorporation of junior councillors into development programmes under the local authorities.

Cabinet adopted principles to the Bill in March last year.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said: "We sent the principles to the AG's office and once a draft Bill is completed, it will be sent to Cabinet.

"In terms of councillors' qualifications, the main aim was to ensure that councillors have minimum qualifications, for example, having a tertiary education qualification.

"So, once the draft Bill is done, it will spell out exactly what the minimum qualification will be.

"We have counterparts who think the process of selecting a councillor is a popularity contest.

"However, we view it is a governance issue, one which affects a lot of issues — ranging from the provision of sanitation, creating an attractive business environment to attracting international investment.

"So, we believe that individuals running a city, town or even a rural district must be capable and have requisite skills and knowledge."

Minister Moyo said the new regulations will, however, not be ready for the harmonised elections, scheduled for later this year.

"Given the limited time that we have before the harmonised elections, I cannot guarantee that these provisions will be used during this year's elections," he added.

"We want to appeal to political parties, as we go into the elections, and say these councils are critical institutions and some of them have budgets that are bigger than those appropriated to ministries.

"Running these councils is like running a ‘country', therefore, they need to be run by people of higher intellectual calibre than what we have now."

He said Harare was an example of how unqualified councillors can easily run down a metropolis.

"We have been witnessing some businesses relocating from Harare's central business district (CBD) because of the prevalence of illegal activities in the CBD.

"This is actually breaking down the CBD, which will be costly to revive."

Presently, statutes governing the election of councillors do not fix education qualifications for aspiring office holders.

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said the development will enhance service delivery when councils are run by competent people.

"It is important that, as a country, we apply the same template used by most employers when they recruit their personnel," said Mr Shumba.

"The idea is to enhance the performance and quality of institutions through recruitment of the right personnel.

"Local authorities in Zimbabwe operate under the committee system, where councillors sit and consider important policy and strategy matters.

"Essentially, all policy formulation requires the input of all stakeholders.

"Competent personnel, especially councillors, have to be literate enough to interpret and critically analyse data and make the best decisions.

Councillors, he said, must play an oversight role over council bureaucrats and "this is only possible when they have the right knowledge and experience to scrutinise documentation and even do their own counter-checking of issues.

"They also play representative and policy making roles, which are by no means trivial pursuits."

In 2020, former Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said the current crop of city fathers lack basic education qualifications and relevant skills to run the city.

Source - SundayMail