Local Government Association of Zambia Executive Director Maurice Mbolela says the Association is opposed to proposed constitutional amendments on local government.
Mr. Mbolela was reacting to Governance, Elections, Advocacy and Research Services Executive Director Macdonald Chipenzi’s sentiments during an interview with Phoenix FM on the purported silence by civic leaders on the National Dialogue Forum proposals that threaten their existence.
He said the Association is among the first stakeholders to provide its views on the need to safeguard constitutional provisions relating to local government in the Republican Constitution.
Mr. Mbolela cited Article 154 (2), which provides for a Mayor and Council Chairperson to be elected directly by the electorate in a district for a five year term of office adding that LGAZ has not departed from this position.
He said a popularly elected Mayor/ Council Chairperson points to the desire by the electorates in the district to have local authorities presided over by persons democratically elected as opposed to a few councillors like was the case previously.
Mr. Mbolela said the current Constitutional provision on the Electoral College for Mayor/Council Chairperson is based on several submissions made by the people to the Mvunga and Mun’gomba Constitutional Review Commissions which argued that having a few councillors electing the Mayor/ Councils Chairperson was not democratic as this disfranchised the majority.
This is also inconsistent with democratic values and principles of good governance espoused in the Constitution.
“The Association’s position on this matter is well documented, as members of the public may be aware, this is one of the reasons which led to Association President Mayor Christopher Kang’ombe’s appointment on the NDF being withdrawn for strongly stating the Association’s position on the matter.”
As regards Members of Parliament sitting on councils, Mr. Mbolela held that it is the Association’s position that Members of Parliament play an oversight role over councils and therefore, cannot oversee themselves.
He said the Association has resolved to defend progressive constitutional provisions and will support efforts aimed at amplifying the people’s voice especially on the type of local government they desired.
Mr. Mbolela further holds that there should be parity in governance, the lens used to determine the environment for one level of governance should be the same used on the other, otherwise, the country risks going through constitutional amendments from time to time if the peoples desires are not the basis for any constitutional amendments.