Residents are pushing the government of Zimbabwe to decentralize power to local authorities through the establishment of a Harare Metropolitan Council as per the new constitution.
Many residents believe that the only way Harare Municipality can improve their service delivery is through the establishment of an independent body with administrative and executive authority over city affairs.
The function of the Metropolitan Council, as described in the constitution, will include planning and implementing social and economic development activities in the province.
Stakeholders point to the establishment of metropolitan local councils in South Africa which ushered in major changes in the administrative, operational, and financial structures of the Greater Johannesburg metropolitan area and its environs.
According to South African academic, Dumisani Nyalunga, the South African metropolitan council has exclusive municipal executive and legislative authority in its area. Currently this is not the case in Zimbabwe where the Minister of Local Government, Public works and National housing still has the power to interfere in the affairs of local authorities, including the firing of councilors and the Mayor.
Section 264 of the constitution of Zimbabwe talks about the devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities and makes it a requirement that, “Whenever appropriate, governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local councils which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively.”
Section 269 further lists the offices of people who can sit on the Metropolitan Council and in Harare’s case, the Mayor of Harare would be the chairperson of the Metropolitan council, while the Mayor of the second largest urban local authority within the province which is Chitungwiza, would be the deputy chair.
Other members of the council can be drawn from members of parliament whose constituencies fall within the metropolitan province, senators, and women parliamentarians selected from the quota system as well as all mayors and deputy mayors from local authorities found within the province such as Ruwa, Norton and Epworth.
Kuwadzana resident Fungai Madhodha believes that the establishment of a Harare Metropolitan Council is long overdue and would go a long way to ensuring efficient service delivery.
“This is good for Harare because it gives power to the people on issues of service delivery. We hope the government will quickly move to establish this council.”
Harare Residents Trust Director, Precious Shumba added that the establishment of a Metropolitan Council would make local authorities more accountable to residents because of its composition.
“Residents will be broadly represented in this Council and it is our belief that this will make Harare more accountable. We need it as soon as possible,” said Shumba.
Harare News reached out to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Savior Kasukuwere for comment. The Minister had not responded to questions sent to his office at the time of going to press.