Home » Governance » Local Government Laws Poised for Realignment

The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has crafted three draft Bills to ensure legislation it administers is in compliance with the new Constitution. Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said this when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. “The ministry has so far produced three laymen Bills for the Local Authorities Bill, Provincial and Metropolitan Amendment Bill and Traditional Leaders Amendment Bill,” he said.

“Critical to note is that the Local Authorities Bill seeks to harmonise the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act.

“The said three draft Bills are now ready for extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders before the memoranda of principles for each of the Bills are forwarded to Cabinet.”

So far, 300 Bills dealing with various issues have been drafted to ensure their compliance with the new Constitution.

The Local Authorities Bill is expected to curb ministerial powers, especially involvement in the day-to-day affairs of local authorities following numerous complaints by some sectors of society that the provisions as contained in the law accord too much power to the minister over the councils.

The Provincial and Metropolitan Amendment Bill will operationalise Provincial and Metropolitan Councils that were created by the new Constitution as part of devolution of power to local communities.

The councils have been dormant since last year due to an absence of an enabling legislation to govern their operations.

Meanwhile, Minister Chombo was also accused by the legislators of protecting Harare Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi, especially when he was suspended early this year for failing to provide council with the payroll for senior officials at Town House.

Minister Chombo was also accused of interfering with operations of local authorities in contravention of the new Constitution that provides for communities to govern their affairs through their elected representatives.

He denied the allegations, saying the problems between Dr Mahachi and mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni were mainly personal and could not be allowed to affect council operations.

Minister Chombo said the amendments in the Local Authorities Bill would address the issue of powers vested in him as minister, but said the Urban Councils’ Act would continue to be operational until there was a new law.

Source : The Herald