Editor's Comment

Mayors, councillors must drive growth

LUSAKA mayor Wilson Kalumba takes oath before magistrate Betty Malupenga during the event on Monday. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

THE installation of mayors across Zambia should stimulate relief in residents, especially that decentralisation is now gaining momentum to foster service delivery.
Mayors, together with their councillors, must galvanise political will and foster development in their cities and municipalities.
As the devolution of power from central government to local government takes shape, mayors and councillors have an onerous task of ensuring that the redistribution of functions and resources rests on capable leadership.
We therefore support Minister of Local Government Steven Kampyongo’s call to Lusaka mayor Wilson Kalumba and his councillors to work hard to restore public confidence in the local authority.
The minister’s appeal to mayors and councillors falls within the ambits of the decentralisation policy, which aims to enhance local political and administrative authority in order to effectively deliver services to the people.
Mr Kampyongo said councillors must be innovative to ensure that the councils generate enough income to channel towards development activities.
This will ensure proper bottom-up flow of integrated development planning and budgeting to improve service delivery, which residents have been crying for.
As elected heads of cities, municipalities and towns, councillors are also expected to promote development in their areas now that the decentralisation implementation plan is in effect.
Decentralisation aims at empowering people with decision-making in their localities, so mayors and councillors must also have solid local development planning and budgeting systems to suit the development needs of the people.
As functions and matching resources are transferred from central government to local authorities, it is certainly incumbent upon mayors and councillors to put in place systems that are supportive of the National Decentralisation Policy.
Like Minister of Defence Davies Chama said during the installation of Kitwe mayor Christopher Kang’ombe, local authorities should provide the required leadership to accelerate development in all areas of the economy.
It goes without saying that the more local authorities develop their areas, the more the nation develops.
Development of a country in terms of service delivery starts with its individual institutions like local authorities headed by mayors and councillors.
We also support Mr Chama’s statement that mayors and councillors should invite stakeholders to identify areas which they can develop together.
This is the hallmark of decentralisation, which demands involvement of people in decision-making and resource management to ensure tangible results.
We also support Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya in saying although Government supports councils through grants, mayors and councillors also have the responsibility to ensure that they generate their own resources.
Funding from central government alone cannot meet all the needs of local authorities as resources have to be spread across all institutions in the country.
It is encouraging, however, to note also that mayors and councillors have pledged to work with the Government to deliver development to the people.
As Luapula Province Minister Nixon Chilangwa said during the installation of Kalulushi mayor Rashida Mulenga, the Patriotic Front manifesto gives direction on local government administration.
He said Government will continue supervising councils to ensure that the local authorities perform to people’s expectations.
We hope mayors and councillors will honour their campaign promises and deliver services to the people in line with the decentralisation policy.

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