Policy for Urban Local Authorities in Zimbabwe

A Smart City Initiative (SCI)
Empowering and strengthening MDC Local Authorities
Constitutional provisions

The new Constitution through the sections dealing with Local Authorities and the principle of devolution, gives greater autonomy and new powers and responsibilities to elected Councils. It is proposed to implement these elements in the new Constitution with immediate effect. This will involve the formation of Metropolitan Councils in both Harare and Bulawayo and reduced reference to the Minister with regard to issues that are now the preserve of the Councils themselves.

Councils should take the initiative and start dealing with local affairs on the basis that they have the authority and power to do so. Deference to local Provincial and District Administrators should become a thing of the past and while local authorities should respect these structures they should in no ways allow them to subvert their role as the democratically elected authorities in the area for which they have jurisdiction.

In the context of a national economy that is stagnating because of poor policies and corruption, the new Constitution creates an environment where the concept of the City State can be employed to bring about economic growth and development as well as rising standards of living and a better quality of life. This will be reinforced by the adoption of special economic Zones for urban centers.

Executive Mayors and Chairpersons

MDC will immediately reestablish the post of Executive Mayors and Chairpersons in all Local Authorities. These key figures will be elected by voters in each Local Authority area and they will oversee and control all Council activity. To improve the general standard of Councilors and to ensure that they have the capacity to carry out their functions professionally and with integrity, the Party will encourage all Wards to select only those who can serve their interests best in the local Council.

To reinforce this position and to make sure that Councilors are adequately remunerated, salary scales for Councilors, Committee Chairpersons, Mayors and Council Chairpersons, will be set at levels that reflect their responsibilities, the need for them to work almost full time on their responsibilities and their needs. This exercise will be carried out by an independent Commission, appointed from time to time by the Minister of Local Government with their specific task of reviewing elected official’s conditions of service.

While all Councils will be fully responsible for all staff appointments and dismissals, the conditions of service for staff will be set by negotiation through a National Employment Council (NEC) established for this purpose. Approval of the Minister of Local Government and the Minister of Labor will be required before any agreements negotiated under the NEC can be implemented. Conditions of service, for the sake of clarity, will include grades, basic salary levels, allowances, leave and pension conditions.

Establishing Ward Development Funds

It is proposed to establish Ward Development Funds in all Wards to be managed by Councilors and Ward Ratepayer Committees. These Funds will be financed by a levy on gross rates revenue accumulated at Council level and divided equally between all Wards in the Council area. The funds will be set aside in the annual budget and managed and disbursed by Council staff against approved projects and the submission of invoices for payment by each Ward Development Committee and Councilor. All such activity will be audited by the Councils auditors and annual reports made to each ward Committee as well as the Council as a whole.

Ward Offices for Councilors

All Councils will be encouraged to establish Ward Offices for all Councilors and to see that they are adequately equipped to act as local centers for the Council and the Community.

Human Resource Policies
Remuneration Policies for Council Staff

With immediate effect, the salary schedules of all Councils will be revised to reflect the normal payment structure in the country. Minimum wages for all Councils will be set at the same level and related to those applying to the private sector and the Civil Service. Reduction in salaries will be carried out by negotiation in the Works Councils that manage this aspect at all Councils.

All HR Committees are to develop plans to attend to this aspect. This should include a work plan to achieve the following:
  1. A comprehensive human resources review to determine correct employment levels for each department and identifying excess and deficit employee numbers.
  2. A comprehensive review of the grading system.
  3. A review of all salaries based on the target salary of the Town Clerk or CEO and a minimum wage of $250 per month (the National average is $246).
  4. Prepare for negotiations with the Works Council on the changes needed.

Employment of Town Clerks and Chief Executives

Standard contracts of employment will be adopted and all Town Clerks and Chief Executive Officers will be required to sign such contracts which will run for a maximum of 5 years. They will be entitled to serve two 5 year terms only. All senior Council staff will be required to be politically neutral in terms of Party affiliation as required by the new Constitution.

Works Councils

Until the MDC assumes control of the State itself and alternative arrangements can be made as outlined above, all MDC controlled Councils will be required to ensure that they establish and maintain Works Councils in each Council with a standard constitution. These Councils will determine working conditions and help resolve conflicts. Works Councils will be elected democratically in elections supervised and managed by Councils. Works Councils will be the main platform for staff relations and communication.

The Pension Fund and Medical Aid Society

Under present economic conditions the Urban or Rural Councils are not maintaining their pension and medical aid obligations. It is time for a major and thorough overhaul of the situation and it is proposed that this be the subject of a special team selected by UCAZ to investigate the situation and to put forward possible arrangements for making sure that all staff have adequate medical and pension cover.

Managing salary payments where there are insufficient funds

Where, even after the salary schedule restructuring that is proposed, Councils do not have the funds to make full salaries available to staff, the approach to be adopted must be discussed and agreed at Works Council level in each Council and agreement reached on what percentage of salaries will be paid until revenues recover.

Land and Housing
Immediate incorporation of peri urban housing settlements

To begin the process of regularizing the evolution of peri urban, unplanned settlements on the periphery of all Urban Areas, all Councils will be instructed to incorporate these areas into the urban areas for which they are responsible and incorporate them into the overall plans for the area. In addition to start the process of providing all required services to these areas.

In areas where informal housing is developing on land owned by Rural District Councils (RDCs), rural councils concerned should do proper planning for the informal settlements within those areas. In addition, these settlements should be the subject of discussions between the Urban Council and the RDC to ensure proper co-ordination and planning with the provision of services until full incorporation is possible.

Formalisation of informal housing areas and Co-operatives

Where informal housing and other developments have taken place in urban areas or in peri urban areas, all Councils to take steps to formalize all such settlements with secure, title rights and proper planning and the eventual provision of all required services.

This process will be conducted as follows:
  1. The assumption of control and management by the Council;
  2. Issuing lease to buy agreements to all affected stand occupiers and to set a price for each stand and to make allowances for whatever the stand occupiers have already paid as a credit against the purchase price;
  3. Attempt to recover these monies from the developer/land baron/co-operative;
  4. Set a monthly payment for each stand buyer;
  5. Set up a special account at the Council to receive and handle the funds;
  6. Begin service provision as soon as there are adequate funds starting with roads, drains and then sewerage and water reticulation;
  7. When the stand is paid for facilitate the issue of title deeds;
  8. Provide each stand owner with a choice of house designs that they can use.
  9. Work with financial institutions to facilitate housing loans for self-building on stands.
  10. Aim to have all housing schemes and informal settlements formalized under Council control as soon as possible.

Management of existing schemes

Where blocks of land have been handed over to developers for housing, all Councils should be required to take steps to ensure that the developers have the required financing in place to undertake the full provision of all required services. If they do not have such resources then to recover the land in question and undertake the settlement of such areas under urban council management.

Management and control of vacant land and all future housing schemes
From now onwards, Councils will assume full control of all vacant land in urban areas and pursue the following policies:

All planned housing settlements should be accompanied by plans for the provision of roads, green belts, services, schools, clinics, sports and recreation facilities. In their planning Councils should prioritize environment issues including the protection of wetlands and the management of all forms of pollution. House construction on land designated for another purpose will not be permitted.

Sales of land

Once planning of such land has been concluded and land use determined and the necessary surveys conducted, then the local authority should put such land on the open market. The sales price should allow for the provision of services for the stands involved. Revenues from such sales should be reserved for servicing. Multiple stand ownership by individuals should not be allowed.

Title Rights

Once a stand has been sold title rights should be issued and the stand entered into the Rates Register. Owners should then secure approval for building plans and the Council should assist in the provision of home building loans from financial institutions. When an occupation certificate is issued the home should be valued for rating purposes and the rates on the property adjustred.

Establishing a registry of title deeds

To facilitate the provision of title deeds and the development of a land and property market in all urban areas, each Council should establish a deeds registry in conjunction with the National Registry of Deeds. This Registry to incorporate property valuations and be linked to the Rates system and updated on a regular basis to ensure rates are charged and collected on all property in the Council area.

Town Planning/Master Plans

All Councils under MDC control to develop maintain and adopt master plans for the areas under their control and management. These must be kept up to date and to include provision for services in the longer term.

Water Management
Raw Water supplies/ZINWA

All Councils should ensure a sound and sustainable relationship with ZINWA as the State Agency responsible for bulk raw water supplies to Councils. This should include provision for at least three years storage of bulk raw water to ensure that the Councils have sufficient water in times of drought.

Purification and Distribution

All Councils should take full control of the operation and management and maintenance of the water supply, purification and distribution of clean water in Council areas.

Prepaid Water Meters

Prepaid water meters will be installed at commercial and government institutions. Should residents demand prepaid water meters these may be installed in residential premises.

Joint Ventures with Private Companies

To enable Councils to install and maintain water distribution in Council managed areas, they shall be free to negotiate joint ventures with private companies provided they maintain majority control of the Joint Venture and are able to thereby protect public interests and values.

Management of Joint Ventures

Councils will be able to allow private sector joint venture partners to manage aspects of Council activities if this is deemed desirable and under conditions where the Councils can protect essential Community interests.

Accounting Principles for Water Sales Revenue

All Councils will continue to ring fence their water revenues but maintain an allocation of 80/20 between management of the water system and a levy on such revenues for general purposes at Council level. Such revenues shall not be used to fund any other expenditure except those related to maintaining and improving water supplies and delivery and Council overheads.

Pricing and free water allocations

Water pricing will be standardized throughout the country with all Councils allowing consumers in target communities to receive a monthly allocation of free water and a graduated scale of water charges dependent on consumption. Such policies should be standardized and agreed at UCAZ level.

Waste Management
Liquid Waste

All Councils should be required to maintain sewerage systems at all times and to provide adequate capacity in the form of open ponds or sewerage plants to process liquid waste before it is discharged into local river systems. Where possible and desirable, water recycling should be considered.

Solid Waste

All Councils to charge standard rates for solid waste management and should experiment with private sector contractors and recycling operations. All Councils to provide properly planned and managed dump sites.

Roads Maintenance

Negotiations with ZINARA by UCAZ will establish a formula for the allocation of funds to all Urban Councils based on their needs. These funds to be transferred to each Council as a direct grant on a monthly basis for the Councils to use for road maintenance and new road works.

Traffic Management, Mass Transit and Taxi Management

The two Metropolitan Councils to examine the need for a mass transit system starting with the Chitungwiza/Harare rail system which should go ahead immediately as a Joint Venture with a selected company. All other Councils to establish an association of Taxi Operators and to hold consultations with the local Association on a monthly basis about all service related issues.

All Councils will monitor traffic patterns in the areas under their control and management and ensure that bottlenecks and congestion are dealt with as soon as possible. All Traffic signals should be maintained at operational levels at all times. Traffic Police should be informed of traffic problems by the Call Centers.

Social Support Services

Where the financial capacity exists, Councils will be required to maintain a social support programme that seeks to help meet the needs of the poorest and most needy families and individuals in the Community.

Revenue Systems
Rates and Land Taxes

All Councils to undertake an immediate and comprehensive audit of their records of all properties, their values and owners. Valuations to be agreed with owners and then a common rate tax agreed and applied. All housing schemes at all stages to be included. Collection systems to be computerized along with billing on a Ward by Ward basis.

Debtor Management

A standard system for debtor management should be adopted for all Councils. Under this system legal debt collection will be regarded as a last resort. Instead, every month, every Ward Committee and Councilor will receive a debtor listing and the Councilor will be responsible for investigating all debtors in arrears and making recommendations on what course of action to follow. Where a debtor clearly does not have the capacity to pay charges these will be reduced or cancelled. Where a debtor has the capacity to pay and refuses to do so, they shall be handed over for collection by legal means.

License Fees/rentals/User Fees

All Councils will be required to undertake a complete review of all license fees and procedures, all rentals reviewed and all user fees revised with a view to maximizing revenues. No bulk leases will be permitted and where they exist they should be cancelled and replaced by direct leasing or user fees.

Small Business Policies

All vendors and small-scale traders should be classified as SME’s and given recognition, protection and access to consultation on a regular basis at Ward and Council level. Councils should recognize that vending is out of necessity and vendors should not be harassed. Council should consult vendors associations and agree with them on new vending sites in the city. After which Councils should demarcate and designate the vending bays to registered and licensed operators.

Where it is necessary for the Council to take action against SME’s that are breaking the Council by laws, the Council will have the right to collect their goods and forcibly remove them from the site they are occupying. However, a receipt will be given to the Vendor and they will be allowed to collect their goods from the Council warehouse on payment of a small fine.


All small-scale manufacturing activity will be afforded the same rights as the small scale traders plus secure, serviced places of work. Efforts should be made to provide financing, training and advisory services to these SME’s.

Service Sector SME’s

All small-scale service sector activity will be afforded the same rights as the small scale traders plus secure, serviced places of work. Efforts should be made to provide financing, training and advisory services to these SME’s.

Formal sector business development and consultation

All Councils should establish an advisory Board of well established and recognised business leaders and managers who should meet monthly with the Council and they should be consulted on all matters that affect them as well as how to foster the growth of the City or Town or RDC and increase economic activity.

Call Centers
Establishment in all Councils

All Councils to emulate the example of the Bulawayo Call Center and establish local Call Centers for their own urban area. Every Council must establish and publish response times, reaction capacity and feedback to the Mayor or Chairpersons. Included in the call center programme must be a provision for reports to the Mayor/Chairperson of any incidents or knowledge of corruption in Council matters.

ICTs for community development

All Councils to develop interactive platforms for purposes of continuous and unfettered feedback and development of new ideals meant to foster the development of the cities

Procurement Policies

All Councils, with immediate effect to reestablish Procurement Committees under elected Councilor leadership with a standard set of rules and procedures. The activities of all such Committees will be subjected to audit.

Street lighting

Councils should adopt new solar energy technologies to power street lighting. The objective being to provide street lighting in all areas and to maintain these at 90 per cent.

Healthcare Systems

Councils will be required to maintain public health systems and standards and to provide at least one primary healthcare clinic per Ward. All Clinics will be connected by the internet to consultative services provided from a central office staffed by appropriate personnel.

Education Facilities

Councils will ensure that land is made available to all communities to ensure adequate schools and other educational institutions are developed to meet local needs. Ward Development Funds will be required to provide matching grants to communities developing or expanding educational facilities. All schools will be encouraged to become linked to the internet and to use such systems to augment education and library access.

Message and Media Management

All Mayors, Chairpersons and Councilors must recognise the need for careful and consistent message and media management. Where they are unclear about what to say on any issue they should seek guidance from the Party in advance


Any elected official found to have been corrupt in his/her dealings will face immediate disciplinary action and if the allegations are found to be true, they will be dismissed. The Party will set up a hotline in all call centers for the public to report cases of corruption. Such reports must be given strict confidentiality and protection.

Ratepayers Associations and Report Back Meetings

All Councilors will be required to work with Ratepayers Associations in their Wards and to hold regular report back meetings with Residents at least every two months. Local Members of Parliament, Party structures should be invited to these meetings which are not Party functions but formal report back sessions on Local Government and National Government issues.

The Chairpersons from each Ward will make up the City/Town executive Committee and will meet with the Mayor/Chairperson at least once a month. Ward Committees will assist with Debt collection and Ward planning as well as managing the Ward Development Fund and setting priorities.

Councilors will report back to Ward ratepayers once every two months at meetings called by the Committee and attended by the Councilor, the MP and Party structures. The latter will attend as members of the public.



44 Nelson Mandela Street

Phone:     +263 773011263
WhatsApp    +263 771687197
Email:    info@mdc.co.zw
Web:    www.mdc.co.zw