New Law To Set Minimum Qualifications For Councillors
The Government plans to enact a law that bars uneducated people from running for local authority seats in a move meant to ensure the election of competent councillors capable of running local government affairs and thereby improve service delivery.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo told The Sunday Mail that the Attorney-General (AG)’s office is currently drafting amendments to the Rural Districts Council Act.
The Bill will, among other things, seek to fix qualifications for those running for council office, as well as provide regulations for the suspension and removal of councillors from office.
Moyo revealed that Cabinet adopted principles to the Bill in March last year. He said:
We sent the principles to the AG’s office and once a draft Bill is completed, it will be sent to Cabinet.
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In terms of councillors’ qualifications, the main aim was to ensure that councillors have minimum qualifications, for example, having a tertiary education qualification.
So, once the draft Bill is done, it will spell out exactly what the minimum qualification will be.
We have counterparts who think the process of selecting a councillor is a popularity contest.
However, we view it as a governance issue, one which affects a lot of issues — ranging from the provision of sanitation, and creating an attractive business environment to attracting international investment.
So, we believe that individuals running a city, town or even a rural district must be capable and have the requisite skills and knowledge.
Moyo, however, noted that the new regulations will not be ready for the general elections scheduled for later this year.
He said running councils is a serious matter, therefore, they need to be run by people of higher intellectual calibre.
The opposition councillors have often been accused of incompetence and corruption with some of them reportedly acquiring numerous residential stands during their terms of office whilst service delivery continues to deteriorate.
However, some observers argue that it would be unfair to discriminate against people based on their level of education.
They say it is the duty of the electorate to select candidates they deem capable of fulfilling their aspirations regardless of their level of education.
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