The Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) is one of the oldest local government associations in Africa. It started as a loose forum of municipalities in 1923 when councils used to meet and discuss matters of common concern. In 1940 the forum adopted a constitution which established the Local Government Association of Southern Rhodesia (LGASR) with a permanent secretariat.
The Association has gone through many name changes from LGASR, Local Government Association of Rhodesia, Local Government Association of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe. UCAZ is a voluntary association of 32 urban local authorities, enjoying a 100% membership of all urban councils in Zimbabwe.
The UCAZ constitution was last amended in June 2002 in order to reflect the new challenges brought about by government`s decentralisation policy as well as other changes in the local government sector.
The Association is funded through members subscriptions. It also receives assistance from donors and partners in local government.
Subcommittees and Officers
The Association has five (5) subcommittees, namely:
- Management, Manpower and Legal Services
- Health Services
- Housing and Community Services
- Technical Services
Seven (7) officers fora have been established for:
- Town Clerks
- Directors of Finance
- Directors of Health
- Directors of Housing
- Community Services
- Town Engineers
- Women in Local Government.
Reforming the Association
From the mid 1990s the Association embarked on a restructuring and reorientation exercise which resulted in a major shift from the secretariatâs traditional emphasis on administration to the implementation of programmes which address the concerns of its members. Pursuant to this, the post of Secretary General was established with the first Secretary General being appointed in August 1998.
The Association is now in a position to:
- Lobby government and relevant organisations
- Research into matters of importance to its members, where appropriate, in partnership with other experts at institutions of higher learning
- Scrutinise legislation and current policies in the light of current trends and thinking on local government and make recommendations thereon.
- Study practices in other jurisdictions and make recommendations thereon
- Provide expertise in key areas to members with the co-operation of partners in local government, in areas such as finance and health