By Nhau Mangirazi
Karoi, June 14, 2016 – RESIDENTS in Karoi have expressed mixed feelings over the Local Government Amendment Bill at a poorly attended outreach meeting held in the farming town on Monday by parliament’s local government committee.
Some residents took time to bash a law which they felt unnecessarily gives leeway to the local government minister to meddle in council affairs, thereby affecting service delivery.
The Karoi meeting, the first in a series of similar meetings to be held in eight of the country’s provinces by parliament, drew about 60 participants.
Hurungwe Rural district councilor Ben Chipanda blamed the poor attendance on Monday to the parliamentary committee’s failure to adequately publicise the process.
“There was no publicity on the issue that is of national importance and whenever you want to come here advise us in advance,” Chipanda said.
Karoi councilor Kudakwashe Chigumo said the proposed law gave “too much powers to an individual who may reverse decisions passed by a group of people”
“What is so special about that individual in the name of a Minister to get too much power,” he said.
“Councilors are voted officials but the bill seeks to seize the powers of those elected into office by an individual who may be protecting his political party.
“How can a Minister rescind or suspend a resolution passed through deliberations and a resolution to that effect by a group of people.
“Furthermore, the bill is vague on rural and urban councils that have different interests.”
Chigumo said the powers must not be heaped on one single individual who at a passing whim could decide to overturn by laws passed by elected officials.
However, a youth officer Zivanai Mupakati suggested that the Bill must pass giving powers to the minister so that he can superintend on matters that arise against elected officials.
“The bill must give the Minister the powers to act against errant councilors and some officials. We must give the Minister the powers to safeguard our interests as residents,” he said.
Former Karoi councilor Stella Bhoni said the minister must be given powers to monitor councilors.
Chegutu Progressive Residents Association chairman Gift Konjani said Zimbabweans must move forward after the new constitution in 2013.
“We must align all laws than wasting time on few amendments of a bill,” he said, adding that there was no need to fast-track the Bill.
Kariba Incorporated Area Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Sam Mawawo supported the Bill saying the minister must be given powers to act against councilors he said tended to abuse residents’ human rights.
“Some of these councilors are fighting for their rights but have their mandate of switching out water which is a basic human rights issue as enshrined by the new constitution,” Mawawo said.
Acting chairman of the eleven member local government committee Webster Maondera, said the Local Laws Amendment Bill H.B 1.2016 sought to align both Rural District Council Act, Chapter 29.13 and Urban Councils Act Chapter 29.15 with Section 278 2 and 3 of the constitution that deals with the tenure of seats of members of local authorities.
“The Bill seeks to give Ministers powers to convene an independent tribunal to give a ruling on suspension and removal from office of mayors, chairpersons and councilors,” said the Glen Norah MP.
He bemoaned little time allocated for the public meetings as they had another meeting in Chinhoyi in the afternoon.
“Time was too short but of major concern is that there was low publicity on the event but at least people attended and gave their views that we will submit to the Minister,” he said.