Zimbabwe has a population of around 13 million people. Of this population, 75% to 80% live in rural areas. The 60 Rural District Councils (RDCs) are responsible for the welfare and the general socio-economic development of these people.
Every single day these same councils make decisions that impact significantly on the lives of their respective citizens. Councillors and Council Officials spend much time and effort on consulting and working together with ordinary citizens, entrepreneurs and a great number of local organisations in order to serve their mandate.
Rural District Councils have a need for consultation, research and guidance, whether in preparing their long term plans and carrying out their daily duties. The Association of Rural District Councils (ARDCZ) plays a crucial role in providing such information and advice.
The ARDCZ is a body corporate recognised by the Rural District Councils Act 29:13 which forms the legal basis of rural self-governance in the country. It was established in July 1993 following the abolition of the dual and racially based system of Rural Councils and District Councils that had formed Zimbabwe’s rural local government system since before independence.
The Association’s vision is that of a nation of democratic, efficient, effective, accountable and transparent, economically and socially viable local governments.
To advance and safeguard the rights, powers and duties enjoyed by the Rural District Councils and to promote local government and its role in development and service provision.
In pursuance of its mission the Association of Rural District Councils of Zimbabwe (ARDCZ) acknowledges the following broad objectives:
- Enhancing the role and status of Rural District Councils.
- Transforming local government in rural Zimbabwe to enable it to fulfil its developmental role.
- Ensuring the full participation of women in local government affairs.
- Strengthening the relevance of national policy affecting local government.
The ARDCZ also assumes responsibility for:
- Representing, promoting and protecting the rights and interests of Rural District Councils.
- Advocating for appropriate and supportive policies for sound local government practices
- Disseminating local government information and promoting education on rural local government matters.
- Providing a forum for the sharing of experiences and lessons learned within the RDCs.
- Facilitating collaboration between and among members, government and any other body or association having as its objectives the advancement of local government
- Scrutinizing actual and draft legislation affecting the constitution, scope, rights, duties, powers and privileges of Rural District Councils and making such representations as may be deemed desirable.
- Providing advisory and other services to Rural District Councils.
The affairs of the Association are governed by the Congress which consists of:
- a President;
- two Vice-Presidents who are equal in status;
- one voting delegate from every member council, which delegate shall be a councillor.
The Congress meets every two years at a time and place fixed at the preceding meeting of Congress. It is the ultimate authority within the Association, especially on matters of policy.
The Executive comprises the President and two Vice-Presidents of the Association plus eight provincial representatives. The Executive endeavours by all constitutional means to effect any recommendations of Congress and generally to take such action as may further the interests of the Association or any of its members. It is also entrusted with the management of all funds and assets of the Association.
The specific powers granted to the Executive by the constitution of the ARDCZ include the following:
- The Executive may appoint special committees or sub-committees for specific purposes.
- The Executive appoints the Chief Executive Officer and other staff and employees and sets their conditions of service.
In order to guide the operations of the Association, the Executive has appointed a sub-committee, comprising the President, the Vice-Presidents and the Chief Executive Officer and known as the Presidential Committee. This committee meets quarterly.
Organisation and Staffing
The day to day management of the Association is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer who is the General Secretary of the Association in terms of the constitution.
ACTIVITIES OF THE ASSOCIATION
In order to meet its objectives the Association is engaged in a wide range of programmes and activities and these can be divided into three major areas: communication and provision of services.
Promoting Members’ Interests
Keeping in touch with Government
In order to carryout their tasks properly, RDC need to collaborate with other branches of government and social organisations. For this reason, the ARDCZ has built up an extensive network of relations. The ARDCZ secretariat devotes a great deal of time to contacts with central government, parliament, the private sector, other interest groups and the external support agencies. In addition, the Association is actively involved in the preparation of government policy by being a member of several government task teams. The Association believes that to be actively involved in the preparation of government policy makes it easier for RDCs to manage regulations and legislation.
Membership of International Organisations
The Association is a member of
Co-operation with External Support Agencies
The ARDCZ has maintained a successful and rewarding
To represent councils effectively, the Association needs intensive and effective communication with its membership and within its structures and effective dissemination of information. This is achieved through:
Consultations and meetings
According to the constitution of the Association, Congress holds biennial meetings for the purpose of electing office bearers. However, annual meetings are also held for discussing general business.
A special meeting of Congress may also be summoned either at the request of the majority of the members of the Executive, or at the request of not less than one-third of the member councils of the Association.
The Executive meets quarterly.
Quarterly Provincial Meetings
Provincial meetings are held quarterly at the provinces where the leadership of the RDCs in each province meet with the President of the Association and the ARDCZ team
Annual CEOs Conference
The Chief Executives of all RDCs hold an annual conference to discuss policy and technical issues, with particular emphasis on legislation and finance. The recommendations of the CEOs’ Conference are included in the Congress Agenda of the Association.
Policy Advisory Group meetings
The Advisory Group is comprised of a Chief Executive representative from each Province and the Association’s Chief Executive Officer. The group meets whenever there is a policy issue that requires technical input before it can be considered by the Executive Committee.
Whenever an important political development is considered to be of interest to the members, background information regarding the subject matter is circulated to all member RDCs.
The ARDCZ Newsletter is produced quarterly for circulation to RDCs, politicians, government officials and to a wide range of organisations who influence policies and programmes involving RDCs. The scope of the newsletter is to provide information about the RDCs, stressing the wide range of development and management programmes in which they are involved and how they are contributing to national development.
Advice on policy and legislation
The Association maintains up to date records on all legislation that impacts directly on the RDCs. A Legislation and Policy Advisor ensures that all relevant Statutory Instruments published in the Government Gazette are filled under their respective Acts and those applicable to specific RDCs are filed under their respective council files.
The Legislation and Policy Advisor is also responsible for answering any questions raised by RDCs as well as supplying specific information where such assistance and advice are needed.
The ARDCZ keeps abreast with cross-cutting macro-environment factors in which its members operate. In this way, the Association is able to identify problems that are common to its members. From time to time the Association commissions or directly undertakes research aimed at assisting its members to have a common understanding and thereby generate common solutions to common problems.
In the past the Association has commissioned research such as