Municipalities in Zimbabwe are governed by the provisions of the Urban Council’s Act (..) which lays down that they shall be governed by a Council. The Act provides that the number of councillors shall not be less than six but there is no upper limit imposed. A council area may be divided into wards with a prescribed number of councillors for each ward. The act provides for two systems of election. The first is that of an annual selection of councillors retiring by rotation for the chairmanship of the council committees. The second is the general election of the councillors held every four years for all the councillors. In Bulawayo both the systems are in use.
The ceremonial mayor is appointed by councillors from among its members and there is no statutory restriction on the number of years he may serve. At the same time a deputy mayor may be appointed who acts during the absence or temporary capacity of the mayor.
The mayor is the chairman of the general purposes committee and all council meetings at which he is present.
A municipal council may appoint to the dignity of alderman any person who has held office as a councillor on that council for a period or for periods which in the aggregate amount to ten years or more. An alderman may retain the title of alderman and use the crest and armorial bearings designated by the council for an alderman whether he is a councillor or not.
Number Of councillors and Period of Office
The city of Bulawayo presently has twenty nine councillors who each serve a period of four years and are eligible to serve for two terms.
Qualifications of Councillors
The qualifications for election as a councillor are set out in the urban council’s act. Briefly the act requires that in order to be elected a person must be enrolled on the voters roll. In order to be enrolled on the voters roll he must be over twenty one years of age and his/her name must also appear on the national voters roll. The individual must also be either an occupier of property or owner of rate able property within the council area concerned. The spouse of such a person who does not in his or her own right, possess the qualification of being an occupier or owner of rate able property may also, provided that he or she possesses all the other qualification, be enrolled on the voters roll.
In the case of a man married under the system which permits polygamy and which has more than one wife, only one wife is entitled to be enrolled in terms of these provisions.
Also in the case of a council area which is divided into wards, the spouse who is entitled to be enrolled in terms of these provisions, may only be enrolled on the voters roll for the ward in which he or she resides, or if he or she does not reside in any ward on the voters roll for the ward, or one of the wards, on which his or her spouse is enrolled.
A person is disqualified from being nominated as a candidate for election as a councillor if:
1. He is a member of another local authority unless such a local authority will be abolished on or before the date
he would assume office if elected or;
2. He has in terms of the law in force in any country
i. Been adjudged or otherwise declared insolvent or bankrupt and has not been rehabilitated or discharged, or
ii. Made an assignment to or arrangement or composition with his creditors which has not been rescinded or set aside, or iii. He has within the period of five years immediately preceding the date of his proposed nomination as a candidate been convicted of any offence concerning a councillor’s duty to declare a pecuniary interest in a matter before the council or of providing professional services for or against the council or appearing before boards or authorities when he is disqualified from so doing or if he has been convicted of receiving bribes, or
3. He has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty in connection with any fund or other property of the council; or
4. He holds an office of profit under or in the gift of a local authority which will not be abolished on or before the date he would assume office if elected; or
5. Subject to certain exception which will be referred to later if he holds an office of profit under the Government
A person receiving any of the following payments is not regarded as holding an office of profit under or in the gift of a local authority by virtue of his receiving such payment:
a. Any payment or allowance paid to a councillor in terms of the urban councils act arising out of the performance of
his duties as a councillor whether such duties are of a special or general nature;
b. Any remuneration paid to a member of the executive committee in terms of the urban councils act
c. Any allowance at a rate not exceeding t…. for each day which is paid to a person for services on any committee, board or similar body established by or under any law together with any travelling and subsistence allowances in respect of such services.
d. Any pension payable in terms of the Urban Council Act
A person is not regarded as holding an office of profit under the Government unless he is in the continuous and regular employment of the Government in respect of which he receives a wage or salary. A person is not regarded as holding an office of profit under the Government by virtue of the fact that:
1. He is in receipt of a pension which is payable by the Government
2. He is an officer or member of Defence Forces of Zimbabwe whose services in peace time are not wholly in the employment of the Government; or
3. He is a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police whose services are not wholly in the employment of the Government; or
4. He is a consultant to the Government whose services are not wholly retained by the Government; or
5. He is a person nominated by or with the approval of the Council to serve as a member of a commission, board or similar body established by or under the Urban Council’s Act or any other law; or
6. He is a commissioner appointed in terms of the commissions of inquiry act.
Where the Minister of Local Government and … is satisfied that it is in the interests of the inhabitants of a particular council area, that a person holding an office or profit under the Government should be eligible for nomination as a Councillor, he may declare that the disabilities imposed upon such a person shall not apply in relation to that particular person. Before the Minister of Housing and … does this, the Minister responsible for the department or ministry in which that person is employed, acting on the recommendation of the public service board must certify that any duties as an employee of the government.
Any Councillor who ceases to be qualified to be elected as a Councillor, or becomes disqualified for election as a Councillor, or is convicted of any offence referred to above is automatically disqualified from continuing in office as a Councillor.