Local government reform in Zimbabwe: A policy dialogue
de Visser, Jaap
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This publication is the result of a collaborative research project of South African and Zimbabwean academics and practitioners active in the field of local government. On 3-4 November 2009 the Community Law Centre hosted a seminar entitled “Policy Dialogue on the Future of Local Government in Zimbabwe”. A diverse spectrum of local government practitioners was assembled to discuss issues related to local government in Zimbabwe. The seminar was officially opened by the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Hon. Ignatius Chombo MP whose opening speech is included in this book. The seminar was structured around six critical themes relating to local government, namely socio-economic transformation, local government institutions and elections, local government financing, traditional authorities, local government functions and supervision of local government. Six esteemed authors from Zimbabwe prepared and delivered position papers on the above subject matters against the background of comparative comments from South African academics. Their contributions have been consolidated in this book. In the opening paper, Kudzai Chatiza describes the historical context of the development of local government in Zimbabwe and situates the current debate for local autonomy within this context. He traces the historical origins of local institutions - the establishment of the first local government authority in 1891 and the subsequent racial policies and institutions. He shows how the liberation movements mobilised citizens against local government institutions and programmes which symbolised colonial oppression. After independence and specifically after 1999, Chatiza argues that the democratisation processes were at first successful at local government level where independent and opposition candidates were elected as councillors.