The Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) is implementing the project: “Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Local Government Reform”. The objective of this project is advocate for democratic local governance reforms and to promote citizen participation in local and national governance processes. As part of its work, CCDZ is lobbying government including Parliament to implement devolution in line with the Constitution and democratic standards. This Legal Brief looks at the Provincial Councils and Administration Amendment Bill, H.B5, 2021, which was gazetted by the government of Zimbabwe on the 31st March 2021. This Bill is set to significantly amend the existing Provincial Councils and Administration Act [Chapter 29:11] (‘PCA Act’) to align with the 2013 Constitution. The PCA Act’s foundational purpose is to establish a provincial system of governance superintended by provincial governors and provincial councils.
Major Features of the Provincial Councils Administration Act
The Act forwards three key institutions for the provincial tier of governance namely; the Minister; the provincial governor and the provincial councils. Further, the Minister for local government is the defined central authority, and provincial governors and provincial administrators are responsible for the political administration of a province. It confers limited powers on provincial councils, gives the Minister extensive control powers over the affairs of provincial councils, and grants the Minister power to make regulations for the administration of the Act. In addition, the President can declare, alter, assign names and abolish provinces and provincial areas. However, the Act also denies provincial council law-making powers, in contrast to local authorities that have such power, and, also provides the President with powers to alter assigned names or abolish provinces.
Recommendations to Policy-Makers
- The Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) recommends the following:
- The withdrawal of the Amendment Bill and promulgation of a new Act altogether, to be called the ‘Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Bill’.
- The powers of the central government must be curtailed. In particular, the powers of the Minister are simply excessive.
- The criteria that councils must meet to receive central governmental powers and responsibilities must be set out in the Bill and not left to the prescriptions of the Minister for local government.
- To avoid the constitutional conflict raised by the inclusion of members of Parliament in provincial councils either members of Parliament must be removed from councils or a constitutional amendment is undertaken.
- It is submitted several proposed amendments now await and be guided by changes in the proposed Constitutional Amendment (Number 2) Bill since the current provisions are unconstitutional.
- The Bill must make further provision for the Participation for Youths, Women and Persons with Disabilities in provincial affairs.
- The Bill must recognise associations of residents in the province for purposes of consultations and access to information, in addition to other platforms of citizen participation.
- The Bill must provide for the vesting of the executive authority of a council in the chairperson together with other members of the executive council appointed by the chairperson from among members of the council.
- The Bill must abandon its proposed position on the law-making powers of Councils and simply provide that Councils can make ordinances.
- Promulgating ordinances would thus be an exercise of councils’ legislative function stated in section 270 of the Constitution.
- The members of the Tribunal must be appointed by the President but these members must not all be nominated by the Civil Service Commission, which is a central government institution.
Generally, the Bill is flawed. As stated, it requires extensive and fundamental changes that a new Act altogether would be more appropriate. Importantly, it defectively attempts to institute a provincial governance system under an Act underpinned by centralized government objectives.
Read the full analysis here(146KB PDF)
Source: Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe