Legal and institutional framework: The “achilles heel” of local authorities and raison d'etre of ministerial intervention in Zimbabwe
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Centre-local relations have been an area of controversy in Zimbabwean local governance both as a discipline and as a practice. Local authorities have traded blows with central government particularly accusing the responsible Ministry of reducing them to spectators in their own field through excessive ministerial intervention. Meanwhile the ministry of local government has cracked the whip on local authorities accusing them of mismanagement and compromised service delivery. The independent media has described the scenario as a “Bloodbath” in local authorities. The bone of contention has been largely on the devolution of local authority issues, expanding the autonomy of the periphery from the center and clipping the powers of the responsible Minister. What appears to be misconstrued by many however is the fact that the governing legal and institutional framework of local governance in Zimbabwe provides room for the responsible Minister to legally enable or disable local authority administration. This governing framework has been and is still the “Achilles heel” of local authorities and the raison d‟être of ministerial intervention in Zimbabwe.