COUNCILLORS from Matabeleland have complained that they are not respected by the government, saying this has seen them lose respect in their wards.
The councillors, speaking at a forum on devolution of power organised by Habakkuk Trust in Bulawayo, said it was high time they were provided with offices to effectively carry out their work.
“Being a councillor in Zimbabwe is like a crime. We are failing to carry out our duties effectively because we do not have offices,” a councillor from Umzingwane district said.
“We use our houses which is not fair because our houses are not public offices. We are mobile offices.
“This is the reason why residents associations and people do not respect us.
“We want to be treated just like Members of Parliament because we are the ones doing all the work.”
The councillors said their counterparts in the region were treated better as they had cars and offices to carry out their duties.
Mangwe Rural District Council chief executive officer Nketa Mangoye concurred with councillors saying there was no reason they should not be treated like MPs.
“Recognition is a good idea if resources allow and councillors should be given offices to work,” he said.
“Zimbabwean councillors are like traditional healers who have to move around with their tools of the trade.
“In Zimbabwe, if you want any assistance from your councillor you have to contact him or her on his/her mobile phone.”
Habakkuk programmes manager Belinda Ncube said a committee had been set up after the meeting to explore ways of devolving power and implementing it.
“We want them to convince communities about the benefits of devolution and to network with stakeholders from community level to provincial level,” he said.
“They should make proper research on marginalised groups.
“After we have done that we will engage local MPs to talk to other MPs countrywide and to influence the acceptance of the input of other stakeholders when the MPs pass the laws to operationalise devolution of power.”
The Zanu PF government has been accused of dragging its feet in implementing devolution of power, which is enshrined in the new Constitution.