Constitution Watch: Expected Conduct of Council Employees
Zimbabwe ushered in a new constitution in 2013. Amendment 20 of 2013 as it is also known was completed after intensestakeholder consultation and negotiations. By legal standards Zimbabwe has one of the best constitution in the world. However, the Supreme law is yet to find its way into the day to day of the Zimbabwean’s way of life. I have taken time to look at some of the sections that are of great importance as we stay in our communities. These are issues that have been taken for granted by certain duty bearers, but the constitution clearly elaborate on how things are supposed to be done.
This week I would like to draw your attention to Section 266 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe(2013). This section talks about the Conduct of Employees of Provincial and Metropolitan and Local Government. In short the section highlights the behaviour expected of our local authority employees including the city father, engineers, finance persons, administrators, councilors, refuse collectors and the receptionists just to mention a few.
For us to understand Section 266 it imperative that we take an exploratory look at Section 265.Section 265 sub-section (1) defines what provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities are expected of, and sub-section 1(a) states that provincial, metropolitan and local authorities should and must ensure good governance, through effective, transparent and accountable service. Sub-section 1(e) requires these government arms to preserve peace, national unity and indivisibility of the country. Sub-section 1(f) simply entails that, they serve public welfare. Section 265 is clear on how the provincial and local authorities are supposed to do. The constitution is the supreme law of the country and whether aligned or not it supersedes every other law and should be adhered to by every government entity and citizens.
My point of interest is Section 266, which stipulates the conduct of employees of provincial and local government. Many a times these employees have been marred in controversy for being partisan in their duties. Sub-section 1 clearly stipulates that, employees of provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities must act in accordance with the Constitution and the law. Sub-section 2 went further to entail that the same employees are not allowed by the supreme law of the country to (a) further the interest of any political party or cause: or (b) prejudice (be biased, be partial) the lawful interest of any political party or cause; or violate fundamental rights or freedoms of any person. The Constitution as explained above does not allow partisan politicking in council business by council employees.
Sub-section (3) instructs that employees of provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities must not be office-bearers of any political party. Which loosely means that if one is elected into a provincial and metropolitan and local authorities should resign a political post that individual holds. This is meant to ensure impartiality.
To conclude on this article I will borrow sub-section 4 of section 266 which mandates that an Act of Parliament must make provision to ensure the political neutrality of employees of provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities.