Fast-tracking of the Local Government Amendment Bill is a ploy by the Zanu PF government to take over MDC-run local authorities before the 2018 elections, pressure groups have said.
Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe director Phillip Pasirayi said minister of Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere was trying to frustrate the opposition-run municipalities.
According to the Bill, which now awaits Presidential ascension, the minister can under reasonable grounds suspend a councillor or chairperson if they suspect them of gross incompetence and misconduct and if they fail to discharge their duties in office.
It also states that the minister has the authority to appoint members of an Independent Tribunal responsible for the suspensions.
Pasirayi added that despite protestations by legislators Innocent Gonese and Jessie Majome, who said they were not informed of the clandestine meeting, the Bill was approved none the less.
“It is now clear that Zanu PF is trying to control urban spaces ahead of 2018.
“They have been trying to roll out land to youth. As soon as this Bill is passed into law once the President ascents to it, we are going to see MDC run councils dismissed on flimsy charges.
“It is time for everyone concerned about democratic local governance to stand up against Kasukuwere,” he said.
Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said the committee that reported back to Parliament did not give a proper report of the people’s views after the countrywide public hearings.
He said there are various options that they will use to “exercise our rights and express displeasure at the impending law.”
“All things that government decides to do in a fast track manner result in chaos, for instance the land reform and extraction of diamonds. We are still recovering from the effects of their ill-informed fast track approach to programmes.
“Though we do not have the power to stop it now, we are going to challenge the constitutionality of this law at the Constitutional Court,” he said.
Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Marvellous Kumalo said the Bill does not address issues of aligning the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act to the constitution.
He also argues that members constituting the Independent Tribunal will be members sympathetic to Kasukuwere’s views as he will have selected them.
Kumalo said Kasukuwere will have an overbearing influence over the composition of the tribunal which will be adjudicating matters were he will be the complainant.
“The proposed ‘Independent Tribunal’ is not independent as the minister is responsible for appointing its chairperson thereby compromising its independence and neutrality,” he said.
Public hearings conducted on the Bill were marred by violence in the Harare meetings with some members of the public being injured in the chaos.
Since his appointment as Local Government minister in 2015, Kasukuwere has been accused of being on a witch-hunt of all MDC-run local authorities.
His purges have seen Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and some councillors arrested and suspended despite the court’s ruling in their favour.
Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has been his latest victim after suspending him on two occasions. daily news