Minister maps out better service delivery plan for major cities

In this video (courtesy of Smart Eagles), Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale says Lusaka’s population has gone beyond the council’s capacity to deliver quality services to the people, prompting his ministry to come up with a plan to segment it into municipalities.

And Mwale says government has released K50 million Constituency Development Funds (CDF) for 72 constituencies.

Speaking at a Patriotic Front Interactive Forum, which enables senior party officials and ministers to explain their vision for the country last evening, Mwale said effective January 1, 2018, the Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe councils would be split into municipalities so that their service delivery could improve.

“We are not really satisfied as government how the local authorities are performing at the moment and we want to make sure that they are equal to the task and so what we have done first of all is to make sure that there is decentralization, to make sure that the councils are able to provide all the services that we require starting from education services to health services to everything else that falls under the council. We want to make sure that people participate in decisions that are made at the local level and we want to make sure that people can monitor the services being provided by the local councils and that they are part of the governance system. When that happens you will see enhanced accountability and transparency because people are placed at the centre,” Mwale said.

“We also realise that some cities have grown too big. For example Lusaka, when Lusaka City council was created, I think the population of Lusaka could have been 100,000. We have the same structures that we had then existing now even when the population of Lusaka is about three million now. So we cannot expect that Lusaka Civic Centre will still provide the services needed in Chazanga, in Chelstone and Zingalume and be on top of things. They will not be able to do that, to make sure that there is efficiency and effectiveness, we are going to break down this council that we have in Lusaka and this will happen on the 1st of January. We want to segment Lusaka into many municipalities. This will ensure that whatever service is required in a particular area, it gets there.”

He explained that the Lusaka City Council would now play an oversight role.

“So we have already started the process, we have written to the council, we are empowered in the new Constitution under the local government Act to create what are known as management boards. So we can create a management board specifically for Matero and have a local authority there and have a municipality that will be responsible only for Matero so we need the council to have offices there. They need to employ someone equivalent to the Town Clerk but just below the Town Clerk so that we have planners there, we have people to handle waste management and social economic matters. Lusaka City Council should only remain to provide the oversight that is required. We should be able to do the same with Munali, Chawama and we are thinking of creating municipalities in each and every constituency that we have within the city of Lusaka. That will give us about seven municipalities,” Mwale explained.

“So you will now see that Matero and Kanyama having municipalities, they will be able to compete and see which one is performing better than the other. The council will remain to give oversight, they will collect fees from all the areas and be able to break the same money that they have into those municipalities but what we will see is competition amongst all the municipalities and that will provide the services that we need and all that is in line with our decentralization policy. This government is in a hurry to make sure that this happens and we want it effective 1st January, you will see Lusaka being broken down. This has happened and it works all over the world, London does not have only one municipality, it is broken down into so many.”

He said this would first be implemented in Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe.

“We think that we should do this within Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe. These three cities are the ones that we are going to start with and if we see that other towns are also growing very fast and that there is population explosion like here and that the councils there cannot meet the demands of the services to be provided to our people, we will take the same line. That way, they will not even need the private sector to go and sort out the waste management issues…we are now grappling with the issue of people grabbing land anyhow and being able to build and because there are no inspectors from the council as required, we want to bring back the inspection of buildings. We are going to employ part time inspectors and full time inspectors. In fact I should say that in the last two weeks the local government association has employed more than 80 planners in the last two weeks sent to various councils to be able to deal with the planning challenges,” he said.

Mwale said the councils would effectively monitor people’s building projects to avoid catastrophes.

“This will sort out the problem of building anyhow, this house is looking west, this house is looking west, we are not putting up cities that are admirable…we have seen disasters happening of late, a house being brought down and government is called upon to come and assist. We call it s disaster, we have to provide mealie meal, roofing sheets, the vice-president is moving around the country helping people like that. The reason is that as people construct, we leave them as local authorites, we have not taken care and been there to see what kind of materials they are using, people build anything they like and then it becomes a charge to the state when a disaster occurs. So we want to make sure that we deal with that and this cannot happen if we only have one civic centre here,” he said.

“This will also sort out the problem of bars and night clubs and shops that end up selling alcohol illegally. If Matero can handle their own issues, they will know how many alcohol trading licenses are issued. Right now it is rampant. People just open anyhow, you cannot regulate, there is no man power and there is only one civic centre taking care of the entire city of Lusaka. If someone sets up a bar in Maziopa, we will not know and in Zambia we do not have that willingness to report things that are going on that are illegal…no one does that in our country.”

And Mwale revealed that 72 constituencies had received CDF whilst others would receive once funds were available.

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