A comment on the proposed local government legislation

When I first heard that the UNDP was acting as technical support to the Ministry of Local Government which was reviewing Zimbabwe’s local government legislation, I was excited. Local Government is responsible for so much of service delivery – whether there is clean water in our taps, whether our refuse is collected, whether our roads are potholed or patched. So I thought that maybe this new legislation would take advantage of the improvements the new Constitution provides, and really make a difference.

Instead, I have read through the proposed Local Authorities Bill and the proposed Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Administration Bill, and I am insulted. The five main reasons why I am insulted are:

1. The proposed Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Administration Bill administers Provincial and Metropolitan Councils, but it’s unclear what these councils do, or who pays for them. Is this just more jobs and more patronage positions?

2. The proposed Local Authorities Bill makes no mention of these Provincial and Metropolitan Councils. If government were serious about decentralisation and devolution, like the Constitution says, it would give some power to the Provincial Councils to oversee and interact with local authorities. Instead, all local authority activities are still organised through the Ministry of Local Government.

3. The proposed Local Authorities Bill doesn’t take any power away from the Ministry of Local Government. The new Bill is just the current Urban Councils Act + Rural District Councils Act merged into one document. Nothing changes. Local government doesn’t have any more power, independence, capacity or freedom from interference by the Ministry of Local Government than it currently does.

4. The proposed legislation doesn’t do anything to make it easier for me as a resident to be engaged with local government. It doesn’t make it easier for me to get at financial statements or audited accounts from the city. It doesn’t make it easier for me to get at minutes of council meetings or change of use proposals. It doesn’t take advantage of my newly constitutionally guaranteed right to information to support my informed participation in local governance. In the proposed new bills, government is still “over there,” while as a resident I remain unimportant, not involved and insignificant outside of one election every five years.

The Constitution (Sec 62) states:

“Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability.”

5. The proposed legislation doesn’t create any concrete way in which ordinary people can hold elected officials more accountable. If I have a problem with my councillor, or an objection to something the council is doing, it still just lands up in that big pile of residents’ complaints. There is no requirement to do anything about it, no obligation to respond to residents’ concerns, no duty to engage in clear ways that ensure citizen participation.

Personally I’m saying a very big NO to this proposed legislation. Don’t insult me by telling me that you’re “revising laws to align them with the new Constitution” when you’re not. Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution should be making things better for ordinary citizens. It should be giving us a stronger voice in the decisions that affect our day to day lives. Service delivery has a huge impact on the lives of ordinary citizens, and service delivery is local government. The new local government legislation changes nothing, and if our Parliament passes it as it stands, it will be an insult to us as citizens, and an insult to our new Constitution.


 

Get Informed!

Read the draft legislation and analyses and think for yourself:

Get Active!

Contribute to the debate:

-    How do you want to be able to engage with local government to make sure your voice is heard?
-    How do you think local government needs to improve service delivery to residents?
-    What do you think the role of the Ministry of Local Government should be?

Send us your thoughts, feedback, input and ideas! We will collate your contributions for inclusion in debate at a Stakeholders Conference next week.

Email info [at] kubatana [dot] net

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is currently engaged in a stakeholder process to align Zimbabwe’s local government legislation with the 2013 Constitution.

As such, the UNDP is currently welcoming input on proposed draft legislation including:

Given the importance of local governance to our day to day lives, Kubatana is very interested in this process, and wants to help Zimbabweans engage with this information in whatever ways possible.

So get informed! Read the above draft legislation, and send your comments through to info [at] kubatana [dot] net by the end of August.

Since the Local Authorities Bill is really long, these are some other documents that might help inform you:

Yeah right

The Constitution (Sec 62) states:

“Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability.”

Wheelchair etiquette – Tips via Twitter

When was Child Protection Society founded?
Child Protection Society (CPS) is a national, non-governmental, child rights organization that was established in 1952.

What led to the decision to start the organization?
At that time, there was a realisation that children from vulnerable families did not have access to early education and development. Two centres in Belvedere and in Eastlea were established so that parents could drop their children off in the morning and then collect them later. Chinyaradzo Children’s Home was established in 1967 to provide shelter to an increasing number of children who were being abandoned.

Who plays the leading role in this important work?
A board of directors governs CPS with expertise in different areas including paediatrics, NGO management and community volunteering which contributes to effective programme implementation. The organization also works with 90 community-based volunteers in Harare province.

What is Child Protection Society’s vision?
Our vision is to have a child friendly society, which facilitates the achievement of the full potential of every child.

Tell us about your programmes?
The organization runs three departments and under each department we have several activities taking place.

More

We have the Community Based Child Care programme. This project rests on the firm belief that if sensitized, communities have the capacity to identify their own problems and needs and can mobilize resources and come up with solutions to address these problems. Under the Integrated Model for Paediatric Access to Care & Treatment (IMPACT) programme the main objective is to improve the quality of life of children living with HIV and AIDS (CLHA). Children benefiting under this intervention are those who have been exposed to HIV but whose status is not yet confirmed, children who are HIV positive but do not have access to ART and children receiving ART.

CPS runs the Chinyaradzo Children’s Home Units situated in Highfield under its institutionalisation programme. The home has capacity for 60 children and it accommodates children in need of care due to various reasons. Advocacy and Community Capacity Development is another department, which seeks to reunify, and community reintegrate children from institutions. The project seeks to remove children from institutions (children’s homes, prisons and hospitals) and take them back into communities where they can grow in a normal family set up.  Through the Girls Empowerment project, CPS supports urban girls living in high-density suburbs of Harare between the ages of 10-19 years coming from vulnerable and non-vulnerable households.  The project offers functional literacy, life skills, reproductive health education, a second chance to education, and opportunities for saving money and building livelihood skills to girls who are either in, or out of school.

Do you feel that you are making a significant contribution to the lives of these children?
Very much so. A lot of positive change was brought about to the lives of each and every child we have reached out to. For example, Chinyaradzo children’s home have raised children who have achieved some great things in life.

Which success stories are you most proud of as an organisation?
We have been able to help 34 children access Antioretroviral Therapy (ART).  These were children who were visibly sick and were not attending school but are now healthy and are able to enjoy life just like any other child. We have also facilitated the reunification of 627 children in the past two years, children from children’s homes with their families thereby fulfilling their right to live in a family environment.

Are you fulfilled by your work?
Definitely!

#FreeAngelaJimu

Read MISA-Zimbabwe‘s statement on the alleged assault and abduction by police of Angela Jimu

The proposed green industry initiative currently being formulated in Zimbabwe through a joint private/public partnership could be a potential source for energy and revenue if some of the best practices in waste management are adopted to support the initiative. The partnership which is between the government of Zimbabwe, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), NGOs and the private sector will focus on greening the economy through proper and effective waste management practices.

After embarking on a fact finding mission in South Korea at one of the biggest landfills in the world, the green industry team from Zimbabwe is convinced that the nation has the potential to turn the current uncontrolled dumping of waste into a source of income and energy. The Sudokwon landfill in South Korea uses gas produced from decomposing waste to generate almost 50 Megawatts of electricity from the waste it processes and the company realizes $38 million profit per year from selling power.

A replication of the Sudokwon model in Zimbabwe would see the setting up of sanitary landfills in Harare and Bulawayo and the project will help boost energy sources as methane gas will be collected from the sites while at the same time enhance waste management efforts in the country. In his presentation at the Miracle Missions waste management meeting, one of the green industry consultants, Tawanda Muzamwese, highlighted that one of the challenges faced by Zimbabwe’s waste management sector is the lack of policy to support the green industry and also the lack of incentives in other policy frameworks to support waste management. Economic benefits such as tax breaks and access to funding will go a long in stimulating waste management efforts and encourage behavior change.   Zimbabwe, just like other African countries is facing challenges to manage its waste in a sustainable way and this has resulted in major cities running out of dumping space and resorting to the burning of waste. The situation has been exacerbated by the use of archaic technologies in our industries that consume a lot of energy and produce massive amounts of waste. The proposed green industry initiative will see the setting up of a green fund in 2015 which will avail funding to industries and communities for waste management activities in the country.

Real heroes

Women menstruate; let’s talk about it

I read an interesting article on menstrual hygiene in Zimbabwe written by Miriam Mufaro. She mentioned how expensive sanitary ware is and how the lack of access to water is proving to be a challenge too. This took me back to 2002-2003 when I was still in high school in Gweru. During this period there was a shortage of sanitary ware in the city. You couldn’t just walk into a supermarket and find sanitary ware on the shelves. You had to join the long queue at David Whitehead Textiles where you got cotton wool because that’s all they had to offer. At least during those days the issue of water coming out of our taps was not much of a challenge! Now ten years later there’s a lot of different sanitary ware on the shelves but there are still challenges. As discussed by Priscilla Mishairambwi-Mushonga in Parliament last month, sanitary ware can be expensive, and with our dry water taps at home and at work, menstruation has turned into a nightmare.

The sad thing is no one wants to talk about it.

When @263Chat hosted an online conversation about sanitary ware one guy tweeted that he was going to unfollow the online platform because they were talking about pads. Wow, some men just can’t bear to hear any talk about the challenges of women menstruating yet out there a girl is using cow dung as her only means of dealing with menstruation!

Let’s be clear, women are facing serious challenges regarding menstruation, and we need to talk about them.

Harare residents demand water