town house 04-08-10.jpgThe local government sector in Zimbabwe has made great strides in development since independence especially in rural areas which were neglected by the colonial regime.

 

Notable developments include formulation and implementation of policies promoting good governance, development of infrastructure and human resources.

 

Zimbabwe has made significant progress in the development of the local government which has seen development spreading to rural areas which were neglected by the colonial regime which concentrated on developing urban areas where most of the minority whites lived.

 

Experts in the local government sector agree that major milestones have been made in the spheres of legislation, citizen participation in local government issues as well as entrenching democracy in governance issues.

Alderman Jerry Gotora agrees that local government systems have indeed moved very fast in terms of having proper governance structures from the pre-independence era where traditional leaders had little influence in local authorities under their jurisdiction.

 

jerry gotora1 04.08.10.jpg1984 is a landmark year as Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe, then Prime Minister, gave a directive which paved way for the amalgamation of communal lands and commercial farmers for district councils.

 

“I think that as a nation we have made considerable progress in strengthening the local government sector as evidenced by the various developments which took place after 1980.

 

“Notably the then Prime Minister’s directive of 1984 is key in that it brought all areas under one single administration,” said Alderman Gotora.

 

The Rural District Councils Act of 1998 which consolidated the administration of local governance issues and removed racial bias has also been hailed.

 

The Chairman of the Rural and Urban Planning department at the University of Zimbabwe, Mr. Joel Chaeruka confirmed that the white rural district councils, scale farms as well as commercial farms were put under the jurisdiction of one administration.

chaeruka uz1 04.08.10.jpg“In terms of legislation I think as a country we have done very well because after independence progressive pieces of legislation have been passed,” Mr. Chaeruka said.

 

During the 1990s, slow progress in the local government sector was recorded due to the slowdown in economic growth.

 

The  Combined Harare Residents Association says the turn of the millennium has seen the ugly cancer of corruption taking root in local authorities, adding that this continues to haunt the capital city as new councilors have embarked on an institutionalised looting which negatively affects service delivery.

 

Central government is continually in the process of decentralising some of its responsibilities to local governments and these include health and education.

 

The central government is however not allocating enough resources that go with the decentralised responsibilities of local authorities. 

 

Local authorities also say central government owes them huge sums of money for service rendered.

 

This coupled with the effects of sanctions has severely eroded the resource base and contributed to the bankruptcy of local authorities, resulting in poor service delivery over the years.