Overcoming a decade of crisis: Zimbabwe's local authorities in transition
The world's attention has focused on Zimbabwe as the country has moved from the turmoil of the 2008 elections to a tentative democratic transition under the current Inclusive Government. The country's newly elected local authorities and an apparent interest in decentralization have been largely ignored in the process, however. This essay thus provides an extensive, survey-based examination of local governance in Zimbabwe as of 2009. Four areas are discussed. First, with the growth of the political opposition to the ruling regime, local governance has also suffered from the deep polarization among all the country's institutions. The inexperience of the new local councilors vis-à-vis local administration officials also holds significant ramifications. Second, although local officials believe that public participation in decision-making is strong, citizen involvement is actually quite weak. Third, reeling from the country's 2008 economic crisis, local authorities were operating as best as they could on minimal income and barely functioning in many areas. Financial transfers ended long ago; revenue generation remains poor. Finally, this essay captures the poor state of public services. Achievement of a national democratic consensus, decentralization that actually promotes democratic local governance and strengthening once-strong local institutional capacity will determine the future progress of local governance. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.