Govt should support local authorities


HARARE – Central government is responsible for problems currently being faced by local government entities in the country, because of an ineffective fiscal transfer framework, a Cabinet minister said.

Addressing delegates at the recently-ended Economic Empowerment Conference in the capital, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said there is need for central government to provide financial support to local authorities.

“For local authorities to effectively execute their role, central government needs to come up with an effective fiscal transfer framework for local government and to provide necessary support, without which councils would end up enjoying unfunded mandates,” Chombo said.

He blamed lack of financial support from central government, caused by the unprecedented economic challenges the country faced in the last decade, for the collapse of municipal services.

“In this economic situation, most residents are resorting to ‘self-help’ with respect to basic services the council is supposed to provide.

“Central government needs to re-capitalise local authorities in order to restore their credibility and relevance with the residents,” he said.

Zimbabwe has been saddled with serious challenges in terms of service delivery because of the socio-economic and political collapse in the past decade.

This is evidenced by colossal housing backlogs and outbreaks of pre-medieval diseases such as cholera and typhoid that are still prevalent in major residential areas especially the high density suburbs of major cities in Zimbabwe due to poor sanitation, inefficient sewerage management, and infrequent clean water supply as well as incapacitated health care facilities.

Chombo said due to their inability to perform, local authorities are facing widespread resistance from ratepayers.

“Needless to say, the stance taken by residents has worsened the plight of local authorities,” he said.
This comes after Harare residents demonstrated at Town House demanding cancellation of bills that accumulated during Zimbabwe’s hyper-inflationary days.

According to the protesting residents, ratepayers are frustrated with incompetent and corrupt councillors who worry more about lining their pockets than service delivery.

At the conference, Chombo said his ministry with the United Nations Development Programme, has conceived a local government capacity building and service delivery programme intended to address the pathological institutional incapacities of local authorities across Zimbabwe.

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.

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