BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI
THE opposition MDC Alliance has called for the return of executive mayors in local authorities to address service delivery issues affecting most urban councils.
MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende told NewsDay that executive mayors would help drive government’s devolution programme because they would be working full-time.
Last year, residents’ associations also called for the return of executive mayors, arguing that town clerks, chamber secretaries and other top managers in local authorities had become more powerful than ceremonial mayors.
“The collapse of service delivery in most local authorities can only be fixed by devolving power to councils and limiting the role of the Local Government minister. The return of the executive mayor is a must,” Hwende tweeted.
He said elected executive mayors should have executive powers and exercise them on behalf of the ratepayers.
The system of executive mayors came into existence in 1997 after an amendment to the Urban Councils Act.
However, it was abolished in 2008 after the government said the system interfered with the authority of town clerks.
Mayors are now elected by councillors.
Suspended Harare mayor Jacob Mafume (MDC Alliance) last year said ceremonial mayorship was negatively affecting service delivery.
Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe president Josiah Makombe in July last year also said the government should consider reintroducing executive mayors so that they effectively deal with errant senior council officials.
Government has blamed the opposition which runs most of the country’s urban councils for poor service delivery, but the latter accuses central government of interference.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said: “The practical reality is that the enactment of an Act of Parliament reactivating executive mayors is politically determined by the ruling party which has a superior numerical advantage. Mafume’s political party has no power to enact laws given their minority position in Parliament.”
He added that the collapse in service delivery in Harare and most local authorities in Zimbabwe was a result of weak and greedy policymakers who lacked experience in steering council programmes.
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