The Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Hon July Moyo issued a press statement to the media on the forthcoming Councilors’ Indaba with the State President, His Excellency, Cde Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to be held at the Harare International Conference Center. He was flanked by the Zimbabwe Local Government Association (ZILGA) President Alderman David Guy Mutasa and his Vice President, Cllr Abel Matsika. Following is the full statement.
This meeting was requested by the councilors themselves because they want to meet the President and facilitate a dialogue or an interaction on pertinent issues affecting their operations. Once that request was made, we then approached the President who agreed to meet them on the 16th of September. In order to prepare for this, a paper was produced which included some of their requests. The paper was also submitted for cabinet consideration. This meeting will be a whole of government approach. It is a two-day event that starts on the 15th of September 2022. On the 15th in order to have an all-government approach, Ministers that are regarded to be in direct relation with local authorities have been invited to come and participate on the 15th.
So, 15th we want to have a dialogue, for instance with the Honorable Vice President General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga in his capacity as Minister of Health because it affects the local authorities.
As Minister Daniel Garwe who, because of Housing and the densification model that has come up, will be able to interact with the councilors who also are responsible for the construction of houses. But there must be one governing policy on housing. Dr Anxious Masuka as you know deals more with rural local authorities in terms of land and both commercial farming as well as communal lands, they will be able to interact with councilors on concerns which they need to put through to him. He also is responsible for water and water is very important in rural development in general.
Minister Winston Chitando and most of the mines, if not all, are in the rural district council areas. There are some urban councils that have mines and issues of mining and how they relate to the local authorities and the achievement of the strategic project of USD$12 billion. They need to discuss it. So is minister Felix Mhona. Obviously, ZINARA impacts on the local authorities but in general all roads are governed by that minister whether these are urban or rural.
Minister Evelyn Ndlovu, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Infrastructure is built by the local authorities and yet the running is done by the government. So, again as the responsible authorities of these schools we hope that they can have very good interaction. Dr. Sekai Nzenza, the Minister of Industry and Commerce. Industries are part of what is planned by the local authorities. Siting of those and also attraction of investors to the industries, both local and international depends on how the local authorities perceive themselves and the urgency for that development. So, we think that it is important that they interact. Dr. Sthembiso Nyoni, the Minister of Gender, Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises. The urban local authorities as well as rural district councils, there is a lot of work that needs to be understood between the rural local authorities and that ministry. We hope that they come up with a better understanding.
These are the ministers that we have lined up and it will be followed by the Minister of Finance. Financing between central and local is very important in any country to reach the balance, so we thought that after everybody has said what they have to say, it will come to financing, taxation and expenditure issues, devolution funds, and we think that the Minister will be able to answer all those questions. Our theme is “Strengthening Local Governance through Devolution for Attaining Vision 2030”. We have also sub-themes where the President emphasizes, “No place, no local authority, no province shall be left behind” and that is a sub-theme that we want to resonate throughout this conference. Then there is another sub-theme which regards, “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, Ilizwe liyakhiwa ngabanikazi balo”. This is also very important in our view for local authorities because they are the baseline of how this country is being built and a better understanding that can develop between us as central government, provincial and local authorities. Then “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, Ilizwe liyakhiwa ngabanikazi balo”.
These are themes that we think when we are discussing with local authorities they can resonate. There will be 1958 if they all come barring anybody who may be sick or anything we expect the total number of councilors in this country is 1958. It is a big conference. You add to that invitees that will come from ministries, the provinces, all the ministers of state have been invited and there are teams which work very closely with local authorities. They have been invited. But the councilors are the honors of that interaction. The councilors will also have an opportunity to interact amongst themselves. Its important that councilors interact amongst themselves, and we think that those who have best practices will also be able to share with others.
Some of the areas we want to touch on are constitutional and legislative areas because we are still awaiting the realignment of many of our statutes, particularly those in local government because they are all-embracing. We will be discussing this as well as strengthening local government financing, I think it is important.
Then there is social infrastructure. The local authorities are responsible for a lot of social infrastructures in terms of health, education, roads, social amenities, water and sanitation, and electricity. That is the responsibility of local authorities throughout and not just in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas. The issue of service delivery is very important and there has been a lot of outcries. Where we used to be the sunshine city we are no longer proud to say so. And we must interact because you know the President initiated this issue of cleaning every Friday. That means everyone including the local authorities. In the rural areas, some of the business centers need to have refuse collection and waste management systems that make sure that we don’t have health outbreaks in their areas.
So, that is the first day and we are hoping that councils will exhibit what they have been doing in their own localities so that others can see. We hope that other institutions particularly their clients, business partners, and others can also exhibit. We have social partners who have been working with the local authorities they are also invited to exhibit what they have been doing in order to strengthen the local government system. In the past, the President met with rural district associations in Victoria Falls but not everybody was there. So in Victoria Falls, it was only the chairpersons and chief executives. Then here the President met with the councilors, rural, and their chief executives. In Bulawayo the President met with the urban councils and they had exhibitions which they were showcasing, and I think the President visited most of these stands and we hope that this can continue.
We cherish the fact that this is a one local government system and once in a while like we have done, let everybody be told the same thing in the same room – urban and rural. So that is what we called you for. VaMutasa is the inviter of the President together with VaMatsika
Commenting on the statement by the Minister, the ZILGA President, Ald Mutasa said that the Indaba was the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and he hopes that it will build the relationship between the rural and the urban local authorities. In other countries, they have got one local government association, and here we still have the urban and the rural doing their own just because maybe we think that the urban has challenges that are different such as sewers and what have you, and the rural setup, they have this and that. But in other countries, it is the same thing, but they have got one committee which is the go-between the associations and the ministry and government at large.
Cllr Matsika expressed gratitude to the Ministry for facilitating this interaction with the President. “We are very much grateful to Ministry for facilitating this high-profile Indaba. With 12 ministries coming, we hope that a lot of our questions are going to be answered. A lot of information gaps that have been there are going to be filled, so we can’t wait for this day”.