Harare mayor demands autonomy of local authorities

Jacob Mafume

HARARE mayor Jacob Mafume has demanded autonomy of local authorities saying there is need to be set free from central government interference.

Addressing delegates during a discussion to raise funds for the Matobo and Insiza by-elections by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC Mthwakazi) at the weekend, Mafume said there was need to create zones of autonomy for local authorities.

 “The problem we have with the Local Government ministry is the level of pettiness and level of wanting to direct things at local authorities. They use money without consulting us, and enter into agreements on behalf of Harare City Council,” Mafume said.

 “They have taken the power stations, they don’t pay royalties. They took roads and vehicle licensing, but we don’t have royalties, they took many other functions that were supposed to be ours, but they haven’t done well on us.  It’s a very bad relationship.

“What we need is to restore executive powers, restore devolution and allow the local people to determine their destiny like water. We need greater autonomy for our cities to make decisions, to be able to function properly in a modern society.”

Mafume accused the Local Government ministry of being petty and vindictive, thereby making it difficult for local authorities to properly function.

“The role of devolution should be to remove the supervisory role of the ministry, and probably make it a co-ordination role whereby we can co-ordinate areas of mutual convergence and are strictly governed by the law, and areas where there is need of compliance with the whole nation.  We should get somewhere regardless of the fact that we are not in full control of the State.”

Mafume also bemoaned the collapse of the 2009-13 government of national unity (GNU) which he said contributed to national development.

“Had it continued for some time while these other old nationalist guys retired, we could have created a generational consensus which would have allowed the country to be on a better footing.  Unfortunately it was all erased when the GNU collapsed and we went back to propaganda politics trying to run a country through sloganeering, which has led us into the mess we are in now,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Local Government minister July Moyo said there was nothing called total autonomy.

“In our jurisdiction, there is nothing called complete autonomy. That is why the Constitution is very clear that we have three tiers of government and they (local authorities) are the third tier; which means in a lot of things they have to report to government,” Moyo said.

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