Chombo pushes for merger of councils

LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo last week stepped up plans to merge urban and local councils’ representative bodies with the creation of a 14-member interim executive committee for the new proposed body, the Zimbabwe Local Government Association (Zilga).

Herbert Moyo/ Wongai Zhangazha

There are currently two representative bodies namely Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz) and the Association of Rural District Councils of Zimbabwe (ARDCZ), which Chombo said should be merged into Zilga by June.

Last week, the leadership of both ARDCZ and Ucaz met in Beitbridge where the interim committee under the presidency of Bulawayo Mayor Martin Moyo, deputised by David Guy Mutasa, was announced.

Other members include Shepherd Mudhara, Naison Demberere, Pinias Mushayavanhu, Precious Mufahore, Bernard Manyenyeni, Killer Zivhu and an M Ncube. Zilga provides for a rotational presidency where a president drawn from Ucaz membership must be succeeded by one from ARDCZ. There must be equal numbers from the two associations, at least two being women.

The principal director in the Ministry of Local Government Christopher Shumba called on the members to expedite the process of merging the two in compliance with Chombo’s “vision”.

According to the Zilga Indaba Report produced at the meeting, “Mr Shumba implored members of the two executive committees to embrace the vision of the minister as it relates to the formation of Zilga…”

“The unification of Zilga is in line with international best practice as espoused in the Sadc and AU local government protocols and the harmonisation agenda being pursued by the ministry in matters of local governance.”

The document defined the duties of Zilga as “representing the local government fraternity at national, regional and international fora, lobby government and other statutory institutions on policy matters, initiating and implementing capacity building programmes for councils”.

In addition, Zilga will also be tasked with “seconding members other than themselves to be board members in institutions as invited”.

Among some of the key recommendations in what Shumba called the roadmap towards the operationalisation of Zilga, the report states that an acting chief executive officer or secretary general for Zilga should “be put in place” and both ARDCZ and Ucaz should ensure that “there is sufficient continuous funding for Zilga from the two associations”.