The government has allocated only $2 million for the acquisition of vehicles for chiefs when the bid was for $9 million raising questions as to where President Emmerson Mnangagwa will get the money to buy vehicles for more than 200 chiefs before elections.
Mnangagwa distributed the first 52 vehicles to the chiefs last year and promised to buy more vehicles for the remainder of the country‘s 280 chiefs before the elections.
The decision has been condemned by the opposition as vote buying.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development said it had noted the inadequacy of the funding for the chiefs’ vehicles and also expressed concern about the ministry’ role over the role and functioning of traditional chiefs as the Constitution stipulated that separate revenue and expenditure must be given to the Council of Cjhiefs to carry its mandate independently.
The committee also said for the fifth year running the government had failed to allocate 5 percent to provinces and local authorities as required by the Constutition.
It said this was adversely affecting service delivery by the local authorities. Besides, government was the biggest debtor to local authorities further crippling their service delivery.
HON. MADANHA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to present a report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development on the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry’s function priorities are in the area of policy and administration, partial planning, local governance, construction, maintenance and management, national housing delivery and disaster risk management. I want to start by thanking the Hon. Minister of Finance for having increased this year’s budget as compared to 2017 budget which was US$95.9 million. This year’s budget is US$132 781 000.
As a Committee, we are certain that the Ministry will meet its requirements and certainly improve on service delivery. Our observations as a Committee are as follows: –
- The Committee observed that there is urgent need to restructure the Ministry’s top management. Now that the two Ministries were merged into one, there is need to restructure the top management.
- The other observation is that for the fifth year running, Treasury continues to be in breach of the Constitution by not providing the constitutional 5% allocations to provinces and local authorities in line with Section 301 (3) of the Constitution and this is affecting service delivery of the local authorities.
- The Committee also observed that there is still centralization of power within the Ministry which is against the requirements of chapter 14 of the Constitution which calls for devolution of power to local authority and provincial councils.
- On this note, the Committee has also noted the duplication on liquor licensing by the Ministry and local authorities.
- The Committee also observed that Government is the biggest debtor to local authorities and urged the Ministry to address this issue. Government’s nonpayment of these debts is depriving local authorities of much needed revenue thereby negatively affecting service delivery.
- The Committee raised great concern over ZUPCO as a parastatal. ZUPCO has now become a liability and owes a lot of money to many local authorities across the country in rentals. The Ministry must privatise ZUPCO according to the pronouncement of the budget statement on disposal of non-performing parastatals.
- The Committee also observed that the Ministry should maximize its revenue collection on the intrinsic value of land. The Committee noted with concern the fact that the condition of roads has greatly deteriorated over the years. The disbursements made by ZINARA were said to be inadequate to address the challenges in road maintenance and rehabilitation.
- The Committee felt that ZINARA disbursements to Councils should be fully utilised for the intended purposes without any misappropriations. The Ministry should also look outside the box and embrace the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and also the Built-Operate and Transfer (BOT) initiatives.
- The Committee question the constitutionality of the role of the Ministry in regards to the operations and functioning of traditional chiefs as Section 305 (3) of the Constitution stipulates that separate revenue and expenditure must be given to the Council of Chiefs, hence Treasury should provide for the Chief’s Council, Vote for it to carry its mandate independently.
- The Committee noted the inadequacy of funds allocated by Treasury for the acquisition of vehicles for all chiefs with only US$2 000 070 allocated out of a bid of US$9m.
- The Committee commends the importance of the spatial planning kit which will allow computerization of information that will help to define all characteristics of land which is part of E-Governance. Full operation of the spatial kit will reduce field trips thereby saving resources.
- The Committee also noted with concern that the prepared water meter system might be unaffordable to the generality of the public and some form of subsidy should be unlocked by the Government that will enhance delivery by the local authorities and access by citizens of quality and enough quantity of water and cities.
- The Committee advised the Ministry to seek investors in such a vital area which will ensure provision of clean, affordable and adequate water supply.
- Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee’s recommendations are as follows:
- There must serious and practical measures taken to deal with the scourge of land barons that are becoming a menace to local authorities and are impeding on proper housing delivery.
- The structure of the Ministry should be reviewed to match the new Ministry which is a product of two matched ministries that of Local Government and Rural Development.
- The Civil Protection Unit should be well funded to deal with natural disasters which are ever increasing due to climate change.
- As guided by Chapter 14 of the Constitution, the Ministry should allow local authorities to operate independently from Central Government and should expedite the alignment of Local Government legislation to the Constitution especially establishment of the administrative framework.
- The privatisation and joint ventures of non-performing parastatals as in the case of ZUPCO is also recommended. The Ministry should look for alternative sources of funding in order to carry out key operations like water provision, road maintenance and waste management. Also local authorities need to be capacitated in their activities or duties.
- Treasury should allocate a separate Vote for the Council of Chiefs in terms of Section 305 (3) to make sure that the secretariat for Council of Chiefs is set up. This would bring independence of the Chief’s Council; hence the Chief Council’s Vote should be a standalone according to the Constitution.
- The Ministry should hand over liquor licence operations to local authorities. While they move towards E-Government through online liquor licence application is welcome, the rest of the process is still centralised in Harare.
- The Committee recommends that the whole process be decentralised to enhance convenience and efficient thus avoiding duplication of duties. The Ministry of Finance should comply with the Constitution and allocate 5% of the national budget to provinces and local authorities in accordance with Section 301 (3). It is very clear from the Constitution that the provision does not need an Act of Parliament for it to be effected.
- The Committee recommends the set up of urban public mass transport systems to solve the current problem of commuter-omnibus and unregistered taxis. This calls for serious considerations and effort towards embracing PPPs and BOTs. The Ministry should continue monitoring the local authorities to ensure that they adhere to the 30/70% principle. That is, 30% must go towards salaries and 70% towards service delivery for all revenue generated.
- The Ministry should also advocate for the payment and disbursement to local authorities of their dues in terms of the Public Health Act and ZINARA allocations.
- Treasury must make sure Government departments pay dues to local authorities’ service delivery in order for the local authorities to function properly.
- Treasury should also allocate money for the partial planning kit.
- Finally, the Committee recommends that for full and expedient alignment of laws with the Constitution, more funds should be availed as the allocation of $15 000.00 is insufficient for any meaningful stakeholder engagement.
In conclusion Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee remains seized with the continued non-adherence to the Constitution by Treasury with regards to the constitutional provisions relating to Section 301(3) on the 5% of the national budget allocation to provinces and local authorities and Section 301 (1) for the capital grants. This severely constrains the service delivery by local authorities. The Committee continues to categorically make it clear that Section 301 (1) is self explainatory and should be implemented. Further, the alignment of local government laws to the Constitution need to be expedited. The Ministry needs to come up with innovative ways in resource mobilisation. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. – The Insider