UCAZ 78th Annual Conference and LOGIC 2019
The Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe will be holding its 78th Annual Conference, General Meeting and LOGIC 2019 (Local Government Investment Conference). The Annual Conference is a platform for dialogue between local authorities, government ministries and other stakeholders to discuss pertinent matters affecting service delivery and sustainable development. In terms of the UCAZ constitution Article 23 (a) (ii) and (d) UCAZ is mandated to hold an annual conference with the aim of having an interface with local government stakeholders in order to improve service delivery and sustainable development.
The 2019 Annual Conference comes at a time when local authorities budgets were adversely affected by the changes in the monetary system. Local authorities’ budgets for the year 2019 had been denominated in United States dollars. When government in February 2019 introduced the RTGS$, the prices of goods and services increased sharply rendering local authorities budgets ineffective. This has affected service delivery as local authorities can no longer afford to procure the goods and services that they had budgeted for.
The Service Level Benchmarking (SLB) programme, a Government of Zimbabwe and UCAZ initiative which is being implemented in all the 32 urban local authorities, has over the past 6 years managed to inspire urban local authorities to improve on their provision of services. SLB is being implemented under the theme, “Measure, compare and improve for enhanced service delivery” and significant improvements have been noted. SLB also provides a guided platform for peer reviews and self-introspection among councils. Selected services are bench-marked using international performance standards which act as bases for measurement and evaluation. However, there are outstanding issues such as non-revenue water, scientific landfills, road rehabilitation and maintenance that need more interventions.
Service delivery by local authorities is hinged on the level of compliance, good governance, work culture and centre-local relations. In the recent past issues have been raised with regards to parastatals such as the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) and the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company to mention a few.
Local Authorities are also grappling with financial challenges resulting from the increased unfunded mandate from national government such as in the health sector. Inter-governmental fiscal transfers remain a sticky issue with local authorities not receiving the constitutionally provided 5% transfer from the national budget. For example, only Z$286 million out of Z$700 million provided in the budget was disbursed by this last quarter of the year 2019. The conference will discuss, in-depth, such matters to find amicable solutions, in order for the national government and local government to complement each other’s efforts towards sustainable development.
Devolution also remains at the epicenter of these deliberations. Local authorities in general and urban local authorities in particular expect devolution to provide new role definition for central and local government. Devolving power from central government to local authorities will see improved coordination between parastatals and clearer intergovernmental arrangements. The implementation of devolution remains unclear to urban local authorities as to how it will be implemented. What is expected of LAs for them to prepare, and their status on the enabling act? The local authorities also would like clarity on the fiscal transfer mechanism, constitutionally the minimum is five percent however the threshold remains unclear. The conference will present an opportunity to discuss, unfunded local government mandates, the transitional stabilisation policy (TSP) and procurement of goods and services.
The objectives of the Conference are:
- To create a dialogue platform between local authorities, government and other stakeholders
- To proffer solutions to challenges affecting service delivery at local authority level
- To get clarity on provisions of devolution as its implementation plan.
- Structure of the devolved system
- Resource Sharing in a devolved state
- Civic Participation
- Legal Framework supporting devolution
- LAs preparedness for devolution
- Devolution Industrialisation and Local Economic Development
- The place of ULAs in achieving Vision 2030
- Resolutions on how local authorities can adapt to the economic environment in the country
- Improved interface between national government ministries and urban local authorities to improve service delivery by local authorities
- Enhanced policy understanding by local governments on devolution and other policies
- Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
- Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
- Ministry of Energy and Power Development
- Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Environment and Rural Resettlement
- Zimbabwe National Water Authority
- Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
- Zimbabwe National Roads Authority
- Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
- Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe
- Environmental Management Agency
- Development Partners
- Business Community
- Town Clerks/ Secretaries
- Mayors/Councillors Town Chairpersons
- Provincial Administrators
- UCAZ Forums and Subcommittee members