In an address to the nation, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Gary Nkombo, announced the launch of the Local Government Week. This event aims to highlight the vital role of local authorities in delivering essential services and promoting citizen participation in local development.
Minister Nkombo emphasized the commitment of the UPND government to empower communities and enhance service delivery. He cited the successful implementation of the Enhanced Constituency Development Fund, which saw a substantial budget increase from 1.6 million in 2021 to 28.3 million Kwacha in the current year’s budget. This flagship program, along with other fiscal decentralization initiatives, seeks to improve the welfare of all Zambians and empower communities to actively participate in the development of their localities.
The issuance of Cabinet Office Circular No.2 of 2023 further affirms the government’s dedication to devolving local authorities’ exclusive functions from the national government. This move aims to strengthen the standing of local authorities as access points for government services and meaningful engagement between the people and the government. It is intended to facilitate citizen involvement in local development planning and decision-making, ensuring transparency and accountability in the process.
The theme of this year’s Local Government Week, “The Contribution of African Subnational and Local Governments in the Making of the Africa Continental Free Trade (AFCFTA),” aligns with Zambia’s aspirations. The AFCFTA presents an opportunity for the nation to take advantage of the recent debt restructuring and channel resources towards enhancing trade and investment. The AFCFTA aims to create a single African market for goods and services, promoting economic integration and development across the continent. Minister Nkombo encouraged businesses and citizens to capitalize on these opportunities, with the support of empowered local authorities through devolution and improved revenue collection.
As the Local Government Week commences, local authorities have the chance to interact with the public and showcase their roles in enhancing economic integration through boosting trade and investment in Zambia.