Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo has said the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) and Association of Rural District Councils (ARDC) should be dissolved by June.He said from then on, the Government would only be recognising one umbrella organisation for the councils, the Zimbabwe Local Government Association (zilga).
Addressing mayors, town clerks and chief executive officers from urban councils during a UCAZ annual general meeting in Bulawayo on Friday, Minister Chombo said having three local government representative associations was promoting unnecessary divisions in the local government fraternity and the communities represented by councils.
He said his ministry would only recognise zilga as the grouping representing the 92 councils in the country.
âI wish to underscore that this is my last attendance to such a meeting in the name of UCAZ,â said Minister Chombo. âMy ministry shall only recognise zilga as the only body representing all councils. This objective should be achieved by mid-2015 without failure.
âYou will agree that local authorities, whether rural or urban are established for the same purpose and to execute the same mandate. All local authorities are created largely to proffer municipal services and to facilitate the interface between the State and the citizenry.â
Minister Chombo said the associationsâ mandate would be best realised when local authorities are operating in one direction and speaking with one voice.
âIn this respect, the ministry has already drafted a single Local Government Bill that is meant to regulate the operations of all local authorities in the country irrespective of location and size,â he said.
âIt is, therefore, expected that the two local government associations in the name of UCAZ and ARDC shall collapse to serve all the local authorities in a uniform and consistent manner.â
Minister Chombo said that UCAZ, which was formed by colonialists in 1923, was a settler organisation whose time had come to pass. He advised councils to take necessary action against defaulting ratepayers and ordered residents to pay for services provided to them.
âCouncils should do whatever is necessary to keep the councils running and this should be done as a matter of urgency,â said Minister
Chombo. âIt is the duty of residents to pay for the services that they get from the council. We canât have some residents enjoying services for free yet others are paying. Itâs unfair.
âWe understand that most residents are struggling financially, but we have already come up with measures such as the payment plans to cater for such people. How do people expect the councils to run smoothly yet they go for years without paying? It is that disappearance that we canât accept.â