Service Delivery and Decentralization: A case study of Kabwe
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Zambia since attaining independence in 1964 has embarked on local government reforms by decentralizing its administrative structures of government as a way of improving service delivery. The objectives of the study titled ‘Service delivery and decentralisation’ were: (i) to establish the nature of public services provided by Kabwe Municipal Council (ii) to establish the administrative, financial and technical capacity of Kabwe Municipal Council (iii) to assess the effectiveness of the councillors, council officials and other local government officials in service delivery and (iv) to establish the effectiveness of local governance structures in service delivery. A sample of 225 respondents were interviewed for quantitative data collection while qualitative data were collected through targeted respondents. Secondary data came from council documents and other literature materials relevant to the study. Data analysis was conducted using the Statistical Package in Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings of the study show that Kabwe district has potential to be economically viable, since it has a comparative advantage of institutional support and the good will of civil society organizations towards service delivery. From the empirical evidence, the study established that administrative, financial and technical capacity at Kabwe Municipal Council is lacking. Technical capacity in terms of skills available from both technical and administrative staff was found to be inadequate as some of the key personnel. On the other hand technical capacity in terms of available equipment such as fire engine, road maintenance equipment, buildings and public health inspection equipment needed for services such as roads, fire services, garbage collection, street lighting, public health, markets and buildings, public toilets was lacking. Financial capacity at the council was lacking ranging from the financial management systems that have been put in place and a poor revenue base from both internal and external sources. The study established that councillors have not delivered according to their mandated roles as representatives, legislators, decision makers and overseers. As representatives, councillors have not provided the link between their constituencies and the council. They have not articulated issues well because they do not hold meetings with the communities. Consequently, they fail to take problems to the council or report back to the people. Further, councillors have failed to make use of WDCs/RDCs/CBOs or the goodwill of Civil Society Organizations resulting in their failure to perform to peoples’ expectations in carrying out their mandate in their specific roles as representatives, local authority legislators, overseers and decision makers. The local governance institutions such as WDCs/RDCs/CBOs are not performing as they should because the residents of Kabwe expressed ignorance on their role and the projects that they have done in their communities. The empirical evidence from the study showed that a few NGOs and some of the partnering institutions were trying especially those involved in health, education, and youth empowerment programmes. For example, notable ones were; FAWEZA, Women Aglow, GTZ, and the Netherlands Government. One local institution, ZCCM-IH is involved in training programmes for the youth such as making braziers, constructing community schools and rehabilitating the water system in Makululu compound. The YWCA is involved in promoting girl child education, championing advocacy against gender violence, while Women Aglow and the Netherlands Government have partnered with the local authority in educational campaigns and programmes to mitigate the impact of lead pollution through planting of kapinga grass and moringer trees in affected areas. In conclusion, the empirical data established that Kabwe Municipal Council lacks administrative, technical and financial capacity, weak financial base and equipment to deliver appropriate public services. Finally, the study has established that the lack of capacity requires further research to improve the administrative and technical areas in terms of qualifications and skills of staff, equipment and financial base including its management systems for effective and efficient provision of public services by Kabwe Municipal Council which could be true for other local authorities.