The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is concerned by actions of the government of Zimbabwe’s failure to adhere to the provisions of the Constitution with the recent move of constituting a Local Government Board that will be seized with employing senior council officials.

Despite the fact that the government has been touting devolution of power, the government is still clinging to unconstitutional provisions within the Urban Councils Act 29:15 to centralize power and control local authorities.

Section 135 (1)(a) and (b) gives the Local Government Board power to approve or disapprove recommended persons by council for employment on “senior” positions , these include Town Clerk , Chamber Secretary ,directors and their deputies.

Section 134 (1) states that “a council shall appoint persons approved by the Local Government Board to be seniors officials of the council.”

However, Section 274(2) of the Constitution asserts that “Urban local authorities are managed by councils composed of councilors” and Section 276 (1) reaffirm that “a local authority has the right to govern, on its own initiative, the local affairs of the people within the area for which it has been established, and has all the powers necessary to do so.”

The provisions of the Urban Councils Act 29:15 that gives power to the Local Government Board in hiring senior management of council is inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The constitution states “any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of its inconsistency.”

The involvement of the central government in the selection and hiring of council employees has no place in any devolved system of governance as it weakens the council’s role in human resource management and accountability.

We envisage the reconfiguring of the state in compliance with Chapter 14 of the Constitution on devolution and the continued resistance to change is retrogressive and counterproductive.

We reiterate that the government expedites alignment of local government laws with the constitution.

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association