Residents’ organisations say the selection of councillors based on qualifications is a noble idea as it will ensure that competent people rather than those who benefit from patronage and popularity, will run council affairs thereby improving service delivery.
This comes after Cabinet recently approved a legal framework that will allow the Government to introduce minimum qualifications for councillors.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said as an organisation, they believe councillors should have a minimum of Five Ordinary Level passes and at least a certificate in some professional course. Said Shumba:
Council business is mostly conducted through council committees and the full council. Technocrats in council management have a tradition of packaging and disseminating highly technical documents to councillors for committee and full council recommendations and resolutions.
Deliberations become pointless among ignorant, inexperienced and highly partisan policymakers as they only focus on how they benefit from endorsing proposals tabled before them by technocrats.
The result has been that councillors have made resolutions that largely reflect the thinking of technocrats and not necessarily people’s elected officials.
These academic and professional qualifications should be a minimum requirement in order to safeguard the institution of council from political opportunists who thrive on sloganeering and political activism rooted in being loyal to respective political party leadership.
Combined Harare Residents Association programmes manager Reuben Akili said:
From a resident perspective, our expectation is that those who want to hold public office must have basic literacy in terms of writing and reading, and the ability to calculate figures, this must cut across all elected positions including provincial councils.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary Thembelani Dube said:
We applaud the proposed suggestion that public representatives must have minimum qualifications. Policymaking requires literate leaders who can formulate laws and interpret statutes.
Meanwhile, United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust deputy director Edson Dube said while the idea is noble, some will view it as elitist, therefore, there should be a balance for all councillor requirements.