By ARNOLD CHASAYA –
THE local government systems play a crucial role in the transformation of living standards of people because it tends to be physically closer to the people in need of development than the central Government.
Also, the importance of the local government systems is that it helps to develop the agenda of the country in explaining the implication of Government programmes to the people.
Because of its proximity to the people, the local government systems is in a better position to ensure that Government policies are translated into services that will automatically meet the needs of the people.
Without a strong local government, the efforts of the central Government in the national development agenda will be in vain, because the local government is meant to be the link between the central Government and its people.
It is from the above background that Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga has urged local government authorities in the province to be proactive and accountable in their line of duty.
Addressing scores of council secretaries from across the province recently, Mr Mushanga called for discipline and commitment to duty among council leaders.
He said the development of the country lies in the hands of local authorities, hence the need for councils to be accountable.
Mr Mushanga, who is also Bwacha Member of Parliament, said the local government leaders needed to prioritise the needs of the people they serve.
He told the meeting that servant hood was crucial to service delivery because decisions that councils make directly affect the people they serve.
“You have to be true servants of the people whom you are representing and serving, so you have to help in transforming the lives of the people of Zambia. You have to realise that people are the reason you are in those offices.
“Remember, you are in those positions to render a service to the people of the various districts you are coming from,” he said.
Mr Mushanga said councils were the conduits through which development trickled to the people in need.
He said council officers need to take keen interest in studying the contents of the amended Constitution if they are to understand their responsibilities.
“The Constitution making process places importance on the roles to be played by local authorities in the developmental agenda of the country.
“You need to study the constituencies of the Constitution so that you know where your responsibilities start and end,” Mr Mushanga said.
The minister reaffirmed the need for council officers to desist from engaging themselves in illegal land deals and warned of stern action against anyone found wanting.
Mr Mushanga noted that for development to fully take place, there was need for local authorities in the province to be overseers of land administration.
“When you talk about investment opportunities, there are few requirements you need to put in place, such as land,” he said.
Mr Mushanga urged the leadership of local authorities to take care of land for the purpose of development.
“As provincial minister, I am not going to be part of the people that are legalising the illegal land distribution. Instead, I will make sure that perpetrators of illegal land allocation face the wrath of the law,” he warned.
Mr Mushanga advised the council leaders to refrain from partisan politics for the sake of development.
He noted that for the local government to deliver to the expectation of every citizen, local government officials needed to put aside their political affiliation and co-exist.
Mr Mushanga said the need for development transcends all political, social and cultural interests hence the need for local governments to rid themselves of partisan politics.
He expressed sadness that some council officers were failing to deliver as they were involved in active politics at the expense of development.
“Colleagues, brothers and sisters, we are not going to eat politics or political parties that we belong to,” he said.
Mr Mushanga challenged the local government leaders to be innovative if they were to be autonomous in their operations.
He noted with sadness that some councils were grappling with financial challenges yet the province was endowed with a lot of investment opportunities that still remained untapped.
Central Province Permanent Secretary Daisy Ng’ambi called for seriousness among council leaders across the province.
Ms Ng’ambi observed the need for council leaders to bury their political affiliations and coexist in the interest of development and commitment to duty.
Speaking on behalf of other council secretaries Mumbwa District Council secretary Namukolo Kalufyanya assured the minister that councils were equal to the task.
“Despite the many challenges that councils are facing in the province we would not relent in the quest to better the living standards of the people, who voted them into office,” Ms Namukolo said.
In safeguarding land, there is need for the local authority to continue promoting transparency at all times.
By ARNOLD CHASAYA –