Govt to incentivise local authorities

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THE government yesterday announced that it is working on incentivising performing urban and rural councils in order to capacitate them to deliver service better despite the current economic challenges.

The announcement, which comes against the backdrop of stiff resistance being faced by local authorities from rate payers who are bitterly opposed to tariffs for 2020 proposed by most councils, was made recently by principal director in the local government and public works ministry Erica Jones.

Addressing local authorities’ representatives during a forum organised by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum workshop in conjunction with the Councils Association of Zimbabwe and Association of Rural District Councils in the capital this past week, Jones said the government will come up with incentives to support councils which have been performing reasonably well despite the economic challenges.

“Despite the harsh economic situation in the country, some local authorities continue with service delivery and are still running.

“The central government is coming up with incentives to support local authorities that are innovative and the ministry has on several occasions urged local authorities to pay attention to sustainable financing and revenue generation,” Jones said.

She added that if local authorities are supported, it will strengthen their institutional financial capacity and better position them to meaningfully contribute to the country’s vision 2030 agenda.

Jones, however, urged rate payers to play their part by paying for services.

“Citizens have a role to play in financially supporting local authorities so that service delivery is not compromised. Rate payers should pay for the services rendered to them and also consider the inflationary situation at hand before challenging proposed budgets by authorities.
“I want to also warn local authorities against fake citizen engagements that just happen to tick the boxes but lack implementation and action.

“Citizen engagement and budget consultations are expected to result in increased citizen and stakeholder involvement in development, accountability and openness at the local level through structured effective citizen participation and partnerships in local governance,” Jones said.

Last year Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube said the government was mulling ranking rural district councils (RDCs) based on economic competition and service delivery, a model that is critical in economic development.‘

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