BY SILAS NKALA
THE Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has petitioned the Local Government and Public Works ministry for the alignment of the Traditional Leaders Act [Chapter 29:17] to the Constitution.
MIHR Coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said they were requesting the Minister of Local Government, July Moyo, to align the Traditional Leaders Act [Chapter 29:17] to the Constitution of Zimbabwe by separating the duties and functions of the village heads.
“Section 2 of the Constitution says that the principles of good governance, bind the State, all institutions and agencies of government at every level, to include observance of the principle of separation of powers; transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness; the devolution and decentralisation of governmental power and functions,” Maphosa wrote.
“Section 9(1) of the Constitution provides that the State must adopt and implement policies and legislation to develop efficiency, competence, accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity in all institutions and agencies of government at every level and in every public institution, and in particular, appointments to public offices must be made primarily on the basis of merit.”
He further submitted that Section 194(1) of the Constitution provides that public administration in all tiers of government, including institutions and agencies of the State, and government-controlled entities and other public enterprises, must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in this Constitution.
“Section 196(3) of the Constitution provides that: Public officers in leadership positions must abide by the principles of leadership — objectivity and impartiality in decision making; accountability to the public for decisions, actions; discipline and commitment in the service of the people,” Maphosa submitted.
He said they were concerned over the lack of separation of powers in the functions of the village head as provided for by Sections 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 of the Traditional Leaders Act (Chapter 29:17), which mandates the village head to inter alia preside over the Village Development Committee, to coordinate its work and to submit the resolutions and plans of that committee to the village assembly for consideration, and implementation.
He also noted concerns over lack of separation of powers for village head to chair and preside over every meeting of the village assembly.
“We are worried that this lack of separation of powers is ultra-vires the Constitution; impedes transparency and accountability; stifles democratic participation in local development; inhibits objectivity and impartiality in decision making; and hinders meritorious local level development leadership – ultimately violating the Constitutionally recognised rights and freedoms,” he said.
“Therefore as MIHR we beseech the Ministry of Local Government to exercise its Executive role and protect the supremacy of the Constitution by aligning the Traditional Leaders Act (Chapter 29:17) to the constitutionally guaranteed provisions of separation of powers; accountability; objectivity and impartiality in decision making; and development-oriented public administration.”
He also asked the ministry to amend the Traditional Leaders Act (Chapter 29:17) to allow for the meritorious election of competent local individuals as chairpersons of Village Development Committees and the village head to continue being the chairperson of the Village Assembly as is consistent the same Act.
“The plea to adhere to the constitutional principles of separation of powers, transparency and accountability regarding the functions of village heads in their involvement in Village Development Committee and Village Assembly matters is guided by Section 2 of the Constitution.
“The obligations imposed by this Constitution are binding on every person, natural or juristic, including the State and all executive, legislative and judicial institutions and agencies of government at every level, and must be fulfilled by ,” he said.
The ministry is yet to respond to the petition.