THE suspension of the two city councils coming on the heels of the wanton desecration of land, will provide an opportunity to identify culprits and also give the state the requisite muscle to remedy the situation.
Some councillors at Lusaka and Kitwe City Councils, who should have been providing policy guidance and oversight, went on rampage selling any piece of land they set their eyes on including Zambia Railways Limited reserved portions.
The civic leaders also scrambled for land in waterlogged areas such as river beds and streams, endangering the ecological outlay of the community.
Their ill-fated conduct did not end at that; they also looted playparks, school sports fields and reserve land near grave yards.
They also went on a reign of terror in new residential areas where they illegally converted land reserved for markets and other social amenities into residential plots and issued ownership documents.
In many instances, councillors cowed down council employees to generate letters of offer and recommendation letters to the Ministry
of Lands and this led to legalising an illegality.
They also threatened to run over council chief officers who did not yield to their ways and in the end some full time employees joined in the melee of illegal land sales.
Civic Centres were always teeming with “clients” and a horde of councillors flaunting site plans and offer letters in defiance of the fact that land administration does not fall in their ambit as they were merely part-time officials.
They walked with their heads high, throwing their weight around and retorted at anyone who addressed them as “Mr” in preference to the erroneous title of honourable.
Yes, the title honourable crept into the Local Government parlance when in fact it is not supposed to be used among councillors.
A message must be sent in clear terms that councillors are not full-time employees, but are there for policy guidance and should also play an oversight role.
It is not the duty of a councillor to be running around the council in day-to-day operations including land administration.
They must not involve themselves in physical inspection and land allocation, but only look at the final documents which come to the full-council meeting for deliberations and approval.
Civic Centres are not play grounds neither are they dens where to cut deals by the very people entrusted to provide oversight.
It is sad that councillors became anarchists. Such a scenario can be likened to a home where the parents misbehave by way of bastardising personal values and traditional norms in the presence of their children.
To remedy this growing cancer in councils, the Ministry of Local Government must strictly monitor operations of the councils so that councillors stick to their lane.
The Town Clerk or Council Secretary cannot sufficiently guide councillors, hence the need for Government to create a monitoring mechanism through the office of the Provincial Local Government Officers.
The principal officers and their chief officers are not able to do so adequately because they are subordinate to councillors.
Secondly, many councillors have no clue about the local government system as they are at sea with operations of formal organisations. They come from communities via elections.
This means, therefore, that anyone with a green National Registration Card, a Grade 12 qualification can be elected to the position of ward councillor, even with barest understanding of governance, development
and administrative knowhow.
A filtering system must be introduced to prevent rogues from standing as councillors.