The Suhum Municipal Assembly in the Eastern Region, and the Gwanda municipality in Zimbabwe have entered into partnership to undergo an international peer review (IPR) which involves assessing their local authorities on good governance.
The partnership was forged when a delegation from the Gwanda municipality paid a courtesy call on the officials of the Suhum Municipal Assembly at Suhum.
The IPR assessment is based on four thematic areas including quality service delivery, transparency and accountability, participatory governance, gender and equity which will be used as the main indicators to evaluate good governance in the local authorities.
The overall objective of the programme is to support transnational exchange of lessons and good practices among local government associations and local authorities to enhance service delivery in their respective municipalities.
The Suhum Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Samuel Fleischer, who received the delegation from Zimbabwe, explained that the IPR was part of the Strengthening Transnational Partnership and network for enhancing Participatory Local Governance Project (STRAP).
He said the project was initiated by the Urban Council Association of Zimbabwe, National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana and the Gambia Association of Local Authorities with grants from the European Union in 2010.
Mr Fleischer explained further that the Suhum municipality was chosen to partner the municipality of Gwanda, in Zimbabwe because of the similar socioe-conomic indicators of the two local authorities, adding that the IPR process would largely be a qualitative assessment based on perceptions of broad stakeholders on key indicators of good governance.
“The assessment may rely on documentation with factual information and statistical data, however, the interpretation of the outcome is underpinned on qualitative data emanating from interviews with various stakeholders,” he said.
The Suhum Municipal Chief Executive said the project was a very important and beneficial one which would afford both municipalities the opportunity to share knowledge and learn experiences from each other to be able to deliver quality service and also deepen transparency.
“The assessment that would be carried out by our peers from the municipality would be the beginning of learning and change processes aimed at improving service delivery in our respective local authorities,” he said.
He said that the municipality had already chalked success in the area of transparency and accountability, but was lacking in the area of equity since it did not have a gender balance ratio as far as contesting for elections and governance was concerned.
He, therefore, urged more women to participate in contesting for political positions adding that they could be encouraged by the public rather than being discouraged from contesting for political positions.
“Women by themselves, want to protect their dignity and would therefore, not participate if they are insulted and if they can be assured that such things would not happen to them, they would be encouraged to stand for political positions and thereby we would have equity in our local governance,” he said.
The Mayor of Gwanda of Zimbabwe, Mr. Ndolovu Knowledge, stressed the need for heads of the municipality to adhere to the principles of fairness, equity, good social ethics, transparency, openness and accountability in the course of delivering services to the people in the municipality.
He said there was the need to have a good social safety network for the protection of the vulnerable in the society such as women and girl-children, the disabled, the aged and other less-privileged ones and involve them in decision making.
From Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu-