Source: Parly conducts Local Govt Bill hearings – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 2, 2016
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government will from Monday conduct public hearings on a Bill likely to attract heated debate from members of the public over the Local Government minister’s powers to fire mayors and councillors.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Members of the public from different parts of the country will be given a chance to air their views on the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill (2016) to align some provisions of the Rural District Councils Act and the Urban Councils Act with section 278(2) and (3) of the Constitution.
“The public, stakeholders, interested groups and organisations are invited to the hearings, and the contributions made will be considered by the portfolio committee and will be part of the committee’s report to be tabled in Parliament,” read a notice of the public hearings to be conducted by the committee.
Some of the places where the hearings will be conducted are Mutare, Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru, Masvingo, Karoi, Chinhoyi, Mvurwi, Mutoko, Murehwa and Macheke.
Section 278(2) and (3) of the Constitution provides that an Act of Parliament must provide for the establishment of an independent tribunal to exercise the function of removing from office mayors, chairpersons and councillors on the grounds of inability to perform functions of their office due to mental or physical incapacity, gross incompetence, gross misconduct, conviction of an offence involving dishonesty, corruption or abuse of office, or wilful violation of the law, including a local authority by-law.
It further states that a mayor, chairperson or councillor of a local authority does not vacate his or her seat except in accordance with the sections in the Constitution.
However, of late Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has been unilaterally suspending mayors, with the latest casualties being Gweru and Harare mayors Hamutendi Kombayi and Bernard Manyenyeni, respectively.
All major cities in the country have MDC-T affiliated mayors and councillors, and the main opposition has claimed the suspensions of mayors was a political ploy to frustrate them.
Heated debate is anticipated over the ministry’s procedure of appointing an independent tribunal to look at the cases of misconduct, where the minister will be given powers to appoint a chairperson of his choice for the tribunal from a list of three names of registered lawyers.