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Harare Advisory Board: Residents ask questions

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF) says it is worried by the recent appointment of an advisory board for Harare at a time when the government is about to disburse devolution funds.

Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Provincial Olive Chidawu recently named a 19 member board which he said would advise on various issues, including water and sanitation and infrastructural development in the city.

According to HAMREF, the move is not only suspicious but also unconstitutional as there are many unanswered questions.

“Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF) notes with concern the appointment of the advisory board by the central government as dates for the Harare Devolution Conference draws close.

“What roles will the board have which do not duplicate the roles of Metropolitan Council as defined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” HAMREF said.

HAMREF which is a grouping of various residents associations in Harare said it was also not clear as to who will meet the allowances for the advisory board.

“The appointment takes place coincidentally when the government has announced disbursement of devolution money.

“Questions on where the advisory board draws its allowances from and the burden on tax-payers remain unanswered. Is it the City of Harare that pays for allowances?

The residents’ organisation also highlighted that it is surprised that a Minister of State is making appointments outside his constitutional mandate.

“HAMREF has for long questioned the relevance of the position of Provincial Minister of State considering that Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly lays the foundation for the structure and institutions that should support devolution”.

Speaking on the same issues secretary for local government and devolution in MDC Clifford Hlatshwayo said the central government should not interfere with activities of local authorities.

“Central government interference in local authorities’ work is against the constitution and the spirit of devolution. We need to promote the independence of councils.

“The constitution states that councils are run by elected officials who are councillors,” said Hlatshwayo.

According to constitutional law expert James Tsabora, there is no legal provision under the Urban Councils Act to uphold the appointment of an advisory board for a metropolitan province.

“While I am not much aware of the development, the action of the minister of state is illegal as it is not within the constitution and in the Urban Councils Act, the minister of state has no power but the minister of local government.

“So what the minister of state is doing amounts to interference whilst his position has no place in the constitution,” said Tsabora.

 

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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