There is contestation over the margin of powers that the Harare City Council has and the level of independence that it has especially in the light of fallen service delivery standards where Council and Central Government have been accusing each other of failure.
The Urban Councils Act gives a hint as to the level of influence that Central Government, through the Minister, has in Council and below we reproduce some sections detailing powers that the Minister has over Council.
Where the Minister is of the view that any resolution, decision or action of a council is not in the interests of the inhabitants of the council area concerned or is not in the national or public interest, the Minister may direct the council to reverse, suspend or rescind such resolution or decision or to reverse or suspend such action.
Any direction of the Minister in terms of subsection (1) to a council shall be in writing.
Minister may give directions on matters of policy.
Subject to subsection (2), the Minister may give a council such directions of a general character as to the policy it is to observe in the exercise of its functions, as appear to the Minister to be requisite in the national interest.
Where the Minister considers that it might be desirable to give any direction in terms of subsection (1), he shall inform the council concerned, in writing, of his proposal and the council shall, within thirty days or such further period as the Minister may allow, submit to the Minister, in writing, its views on the proposal and the possible implications on the finances and other resources of the council.
The council shall, with all due expedition, comply with any direction given to it in terms of subsection (1).
The Minister may from time to time, in respect of any local government area the administration, control and management of which are vested in a person other than a council, after consultation with such person, give such directions or impose such conditions as he may think fit with regard to—
(a) the administration, control and management of such local government area, including the provision of services therein;
The Minister shall have unrestricted access to all council records, minutes and any documents in the possession of any council which relate to the council’s meetings, resolutions and affairs.