BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
GOVERNMENT has been urged to consider re-introducing executive mayors to effectively deal with errant senior council officials who refuse to take orders because the mayors lack executive influence in running municipalities.
This was said by the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe president Josiah Makombe recently during a virtual meeting on governance issues conducted by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd).
Makombe said executive mayors could effectively run the day-to-day operations of local authorities.
“We have big challenges in managing local authorities as ceremonial mayors. The abolition of the executive mayors is causing us all these problems,” he lamented.
“We always say to government there is no harm in bringing back the executive mayors so that they can have an oversight role in the day-to-day operations of councils.”
Makombe, who is Gweru mayor, said council officials were not adequately giving mayors and councillors information, especially pertaining to financial issues to enable them to effectively carry out their oversight function.
“As councillors, we have tried to use the audit committee to interrogate certain issues unfortunately, when we do so, some council officials being interrogated claim political persecution,” he said.
A Gweru resident, Rebecca Butau, who addressed the same meeting, said mayors should have power to follow up on council officials.
The system of executive mayors came into effect in 1997 after amendment of the Urban Councils Act.
In 2008, government abolished the system and reverted to ceremonial mayors.
Local governance experts say executive mayors have the advantage of making important decisions without waiting for council resolutions and have elevated influence and control over local authorities.