The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) has welcomed plans by the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) to train Councilors on Local Government Administration in partnership with the Zambia Open University (ZAOU) next year.
FODEP has received with optimism LGAZ’s President Christopher Kang’ombe’s recent announcements on the intentions of his association to train Councilors on matters of Local Government because the move will serve as a strategic short-term- goal towards making the importance of Zambia’s system of local governance more clear and familiar to the day to day operation of the local authorities and its elected leaders.
FODEP would like to note that providing sponsorship to councilors for them to attain Diplomas in Local Government Administration is step in the right direction as Zambia attempts to decentralize its governance, and attain a middle income country status by 2030.
FODEP is of the view that the move will also work as a remedy in addressing some challenges of capacity among Councilors especially that a number have been reported to be facing difficulties and failing to discharge their functions in their Committees partly due to limited education and poor understanding of Local Governance Administration and their roles.
FODEP is also confident that with such educational opportunities, the Councilors will not fail in their duties but rise to the challenge and offer strong supervisory roles and technical guidance to Council staff and ensure that they approve decisions that have positive implications on development and the people.
FODEP however would like to urge LGAZ and Local Authorities to bear in mind that the ultimate and successful operations of Councils in Zambia will still require more collaboration and support from other political, social, and economic forces in addition to the academic soundness the Councilors will acquire.
FODEP for that reason believes that whilst the Academic training is useful and timely, it should not be taken for granted and assumed that once the Councilors are trained, they would automatically deliver their duties without any flaws.
It is for this reason that FODEP expects specialists and institutions such as the Local Government Service Commission to remain active and continue playing their usual supportive and monitoring role over the Civic Leaders and Local Authority Personnel.
At the same time, FODEP is also optimistic that in addition to the academic skills and preparedness, the Local Authorities will be accorded an enabling political environment and local structures such as the Ward Development Committees (WDC) will be respected according to the Constitution for them to deliver social services without any difficulties.
FODEP would like to reiterate that it will be in the interest of citizens and national development if the Councilors and Local Authorities are allowed enough space and latitude within the Local Government laws of Zambia and the Decentralization Policy, without falling vulnerable to political undertones which in the past have made it difficult for them to deliver their mandate professionally.
FODEP is hopeful that as stakeholders like LGAZ continue to support the Councilors, serious consideration and plans for capacity building will in future be extended to the Ward Development Committees (WDCs) so that the members can equally appreciate their tasks and the meaning of Local government and effectively engage in monitor the budgetary, planning, and procurement processes in the Councils.
FODEP is optimistic that the Government and Local Authorities will in the same manner, join hands with Civil Society and other stakeholders and build momentum to speed up the decentralization and devolution processes which the Seventh National Development Plan (NDP) recognizes as key in improving service delivery and promoting sustainable development in Zambia.