The Herald (Harare)

22 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Govt to Introduce Educational Qualifications for Councillors

Government will soon introduce minimum educational qualifications for councillors in urban and rural authorities to enhance their literacy and competence, a Cabinet Minister has said. Local Government.

Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday said most councillors were failing to appreciate their mandate and authority because of low literacy levels. He made the remarks while addressing journalists on the collective performance of the local government sector this year.

"There were cases of indiscipline among councillors, predominantly in urban local authorities," he said. "Though these were dealt with accordingly, it is our observation that the root cause of errant behaviour amongst councillors is failure to understand their mandate. As we move forward, there is merit in introducing some minimum qualifications in terms of education for people wishing to stand as local authorities' representatives."

The Urban Councils Act is silent on educational qualifications for prospective councillors. The qualifications, Minister Chombo said, would improve the councillors' competence in service delivery.

"The councillors should manage their affairs as provided in the relevant statutes and this can only be fully achieved with qualified personnel," he said.

Most urban local authorities are run by the MDC-T. The party recently admitted that most of its councillors were unqualified and corrupt.

More than 12 councillors from various cities were fired from the party for engaging in corruption. The party then resolved to bar party members that do not own property in towns and cities from contesting local government elections on its ticket.

Minister Chombo urged local authorities to submit their 2013 budgets for his approval before the end of the year.

"We noted with concern that most budgets performed at levels below 50 percent due to various reasons," he said.

"The majority of councils could not achieve what they had set out to do during this year. More than 90 percent have already submitted their budgets for my approval and we expect the balance to do so before year end."

He said Government had pegged about urban 15 000 residential stands countrywide.

"Related to this, we have made significant strides towards producing the designs relevant to establishment of a satellite city that is intended to house our Parliament and to decongest the city," he said.

"This will be done through development of upmarket residential schemes, shopping and office malls. It is expected that development of the area will commence in 2013."

The new Parliament would be built in Mt Hampden.

Minister Chombo said the community share ownership schemes should assist traditional leaders in making meaningful contributions to the lives of the people they lead. "Government cherishes the role that traditional leaders continue to play in our communities," he said. "It is expected that the synergy between them and Government institutions will be enhanced across the country to give impetus to matters of general development, management of natural resources and strengthening of social safety nets."

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