Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
LOCAL Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, July Moyo, has instructed local authorities to delegate their powers of allocating land as part of the Government’s promotion of the ease of doing business.
A circular has been sent with the instruction to all councils throughout the country.
Responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Moyo said it was a way of making corporate governance work better.
“This is critical to corporate governance, both in the Procurement Act better known as the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and in the Finance Management Act, that is what is captured, where Government is trying to separate at national level what we as Ministers ought to do and what the officials, headed by the Permanent Secretaries ought to do.
“When that was cascaded to local authorities, one has to separate what the elected councillors have to do and what their appointed permanent staff have to do, headed by the Town Clerk and in the Rural District Council areas, which will be headed by the chief executive officers,” said Minister Moyo.
MDC Alliance Binga North legislator Mr Prince Sibanda had earlier on expressed concern over the ministry’s instruction, saying it was a way of usurping the powers that were vested in elected councillors under the guise of ease of doing business.
“Your ministry has sent circulars to local authorities, instructing them to delegate their powers of allocating land, procurement powers to management of councils under the guise that it is going to speed up the ease of doing business.
“That circular is equivalent to usurping the powers that are vested in elected councillors by both the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act,” said Mr Sibanda.
He argued that in terms of both the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act, powers to allocate land and allocate procurement of services are vested in the elected councillors because they are the people who have the direct mandate of the citizens to run the resources of the citizens within the local authorities.
Minister Moyo explained that the land allocation and procurement of services will be done by people hired by councillors.
“That will be done by the people who are professionally hired by the councillors. So we can’t be usurping power from the council. We only want to make corporate governance work better and that is the intention of the PRAZ Act as well as the Public Finance and Management Act.
“The circular is just to make sure that it takes place in all the councils throughout the country,” said Minister Moyo.
He said the PRAZ Act and the Public Finance and Management Act take precedence because they came after the Rural District Councils Act and the Urban Councils Act
“When Parliament passes a later version of an Act which is in contradiction with an earlier Act, the last one takes precedence. We have not amended it but if you have a later Act that contradicts an earlier Act passed by this Parliament, that which was there before is superseded.
“We have just made a point of ensuring that we explain it so that there is no ambiguity,” said Minister Moyo. — @pamelashumba1.