If you have been looking for a simplified and comprehensive analysis of the Auditor General’s findings on local authorities, this latest publication by ZIMCODD is the right one for you!
State of local public service delivery in Zimbabwe
The state of public service delivery in Zimbabwe is generally in shambles. In Zimbabwe, it is the dual responsibility of urban local authorities and the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to oversee the state of affairs in urban areas. The Urban Local Authorities are governed by the archaic Urban Councils Act with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing playing a supervisory role. Looking at the public service delivery chain, local authorities are closer to the people. The mandate to deliver basic local public service delivery including refuse collection, water and sanitation, public healthcare, public education, housing and local business development largely rests on local authorities. Poor public service delivery is evident both in rural and urban areas with urbanites being affected the most. At national level, public service delivery is on its knees and is characterised by potholed roads and dilapidated infrastructure, ever deteriorating public healthcare system including ill-equipped hospitals, shortage of essential drugs and other medical necessities, acute water shortages and crumbling public education system.
Key governance issues notable in the 2019 OAG Report
The efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities to deliver their service delivery mandate primarily rests on whether their operations are based on principles of good governance. According to the 2019 Auditor General’s Report on Local Authorities findings are predominantly to do with governance and service delivery issues such that out of fifty-nine (59) reported issues; thirty-four (34) relate to the area of governance whilst (25) twenty-five relate to revenue collection, employment costs, procurement and service delivery. The 2019 Auditor General’s Report unearthes acts of bad governance amongst local authorities and key governance issues noted are in table 1. Broadly, the irregularities have to do with payment of goods not delivered, revenue leakages, poor records keeping, poor public service delivery and operations without key policy documents. The mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds have both monetary and non- monetary implications. Institutionalised corruption, rampant abuse of public funds and lack of public accountability among other governance woes bedeviling local authorities in Zimbabwe have contributed to the plight of residents especially in urban areas.
The aforementioned crises thrive at the expense of public service delivery and it is the poor men and women who bear the brunt. Poor public service delivery is really taking a toll on residents. The implication is that citizens’ fundamental rights enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Zimbabwe Constitution are continually abrogated. The Constitution obligates custodians of public finances to exercise transparency, accountability and equity.
- Local authorities must fully deliver their mandate as clearly stated in Section 265 of the Constitution on general principles of provincial and local governments in ensuring good governance by being effective, transparent, accountable and institutionally coherent.
- Local authorities must implement in earnest the Auditor General’s recommendations in the 2019 Audit Report to restore public trust in the authorities. Restoration of residents’ trust will go a long way in ensuring mutual cooperation between local authorities and residents in local development processes.
- An Open Budget Survey conducted by ZIMCODD indicated limited public access to council’s audit information. There is need for local authorities to publicize and make available all audit information to enhance the public scrutiny and follow up on the implementation of recommendations.
- Local authorities operating without key policy documents such as the Gweru City Council must formulate and implement policy guidelines. These include risk management policies, recruitment and selection policies and housing policies. This must be done through genuine and wider stakeholder consultations in the formulation of these policies especially the ones that guide public service delivery.
Access the full analysis here (7MB PDF)