Devolution of power to local authorities is not mandatory but should be applied only if it benefits ordinary people, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, has said.
Cde Kasukuwere told Senators last Thursday just before the passage of the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill which now awaits Presidential assent to become law, that the Constitution seeks devolution only to empower authorities that are competent.
The minister said the country’s local authorities do not deserve devolution of power as they are corrupt and will mismanage resources.
“In terms of Section 264, Devolution of Government powers and responsibilities, it says, ‘Whenever appropriate . . .’ it is not mandatory, it says, ‘Whenever appropriate, governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively’,” he said.
“And in this case, how do you devolve power to corrupt councils and authorities?”
Cde Kasukuwere said audits into municipalities have unearthed serious corruption by councillors.
“As we speak, a number of shocking cases of maladministration and corruption have been uncovered by the ministries following reports from concerned and desperate members of the public and residents’ associations,” the minister said.
The Local Government Laws Amendment Bill would result in the setting up of an independent tribunal to investigate corruption in local authorities in compliance with a court ruling by High Court judge Justice Francis Bere reinstating Gweru councillors whom the minister had suspended.
“This matter is urgent in light of the increasing number of cases of corruption, mismanagement, insubordination and other ills that are being exposed in various local authorities particularly urban. We are also complying with the Justice Bere judgment whereby he directed that a tribunal be established,” said Cde Kasukuwere.