Sound Knowledge Management, Zero Tolerance to Corruption and understanding Good Corporate Governance Ethics key in driving towards Smart Cities.
You are “penned in town,” but you love excursions to them country and the observation of wild life-certainly a heart-enlarging diversion. Why don’t you walk out of your house door, in your slippers, to the nearest gas lamp of a night with a butterfly net, and observe the wild life of common and rare moths that is beating about it, and co-ordinate the knowledge thus obtained and build a superstructure on it, and at last get to know something about something?
Good Corporate Governance is demonstrated by transparency and accountability of decision makers and all stakeholders. promotion of citizen participation in urban matters such as financial matters through participatory budget and transparent tendering, doing away with administrative and procedural incentives for corruption such as reducing administrative discretion in permit processing, design and implement codes of conduct and provision for regular disclosure of assets of public officials and elected representatives, come up with enforceable standards of accountability and service delivery such as International Standard Organisation (IS0) systems, setting up public feedback mechanisms such as hotlines, complaint offices and procedures, citizen report cards and procedures for public petitioning and uphold the rights of the public to access information.
SirColin holds the view that the costs of poor and reckless decisions should be borne by the decision makers in order to make them more accountable to the citizens.
In the case of Urban Local Authorities, the key elements of Good Corporate Governance are: the Residents and other key stakeholders, Top management and the council.
The council is the board of directors and is responsible for giving the entire City Council, strategic direction, oversight and control. Thus, the performance of an organisation is the primary responsibility of the board of directors.
It is necessary to highlight some of the key responsibilities of the Board of Directors in order of importance is as follows:
1. Setting Corporate strategy, Overall direction, Mission, or Vision
2. Hiring and firing the Chief Executive Officer and top management
3. Controlling, monitoring, or supervising top management
4. Reviewing and approving the use of resources
5. Caring for the stakeholder interests
My self assessment focuses on the principle of equity in Good Corporate Governance and requires that every citizen has access to decision making and basic necessities of urban life. Power sharing leads to equity in the access to and use of resources.
All citizens of the city, men and women alike must participate in decision making, priority setting and resource allocation processes as equals and also the implications of the Urban Councils Act (UCA), Chapter 29:15 on the practice of Good Corporate Governance in Zimbabwe’s urban local authorities.
Urban Councils Act (UCA), Chapter 29:15 has a number of sections that promote Good Corporate Governance if implemented effectively. For instance, Urban Councils Act (CAP 29:15) separates the role of the Town Clerk/Secretary from that of the Mayor/Chairperson. This is a healthy situation as it allows for checks and balances of power between them, while section 87 of Urban Councils Act (CAP 29:15) provides for council meetings which are open to the public and the press. Section 210 of Urban Councils Act (CAP 29:15) provides for the establishment of a municipal procurement board that superintends over the open tender system of urban local authorities.
Compliance with this section of the Act is meant to promote transparency as well as to reduce the occurrence of corruption in local authorities.
However, these elements can be split into two distinct groups, one related to personal quality and the other to non-personal quality.
Leadership, integrity and commitment are related to personal quality whereas accountability, integration and transparency are related to non-personal quality and these are a product of strategies, systems, policies and processes within a public organisation.
Sadly, cases of Corruption and Abuse of municipal finances and assets are on the increase.This points to the existence of gaps that need to be filled from a Good Corporate Governance perspective in relation to the practice of corporate governance in the public sector.
Sections 92 and 96 of Urban Councils Act (CAP 29:15)provide for the transaction of council business through the committee system. This practice promotes good governance values of democracy, inclusivity
The committee system allows all councillors to participate in the decisions of the council as every councillor would be a member of at least one of the committees.
The question was and is, were and are the Councillors sufficiently prepared to assume their roles in the various committees to enhance their effectiveness in decision-making, policy making and analysis?
Section 107 of the Urban Council Act compels anyone who has an interest be it a Councillor, Council employee or any stakeholder and is present at a council meeting to disclose his or her interest at the commencement of the meeting and to withdraw herself or himself from the meeting to enable independent and transparent discussions on the agenda item of interest.
The million dollar question was, and is did Urban Local Authorities practise Good Corporate Governance in the conduct of Council business to promote transparency?
In sequel SirColin believes Good Corporate Governance ensures that every man, woman or child has access to the necessities of urban life, such as enough shelter, security of tenure, safe water, sanitation, a clean environment, health, education, nutrition, employment, public safety and mobility.
Good Corporate Governance involves the engagement of various stakeholders to achieve a common goal through proper planning and sound management of the affairs of the city even in the face of conflicting or diverse interests. Reconciling conflicting and or diverse interests to achieve cooperative action is no easy task as this calls for strategic leadership capabilities.
Good Corporate Governance demands serious leadership capacities within local government institutions.
Good Corporate Governance is not an event but a process which should roll out continuously and encompasses both formal and informal institutions as well as the social capital of the citizens.
Good Corporate Governance empowers citizens to use their talents to the maximum and in so doing contribute to the enhancement of social and economic conditions of the city.
Harpham and Boateng (1997) aptly sum up “Urban Governance as the relationship between municipal authorities and citizens”.
The most important of all perceptions is the continual perception of cause and effect in other words, the perception of the continuous development of the universe in still other words, the perception of the course of evolution. When one has thoroughly got imbued into one’s head the leading truth that nothing happens without a cause, one grows not only large-minded, but large hearted.
Most Urban Councils face a central problem of autonomy and control.
Too much autonomy and too little control can undermine coordination and prevent the delivery of a consistent service and product.
Too much control at the centre can undermine motivation among those who are furthest from the source of power.
The challenge is to balance the control necessary for a united strategy with sufficient autonomy to foster initiative and responsiveness.
As for reason (which makes conduct, and is not unconnected with the making of principles), it plays a far smaller part in our lives than we fancy.
We are supposed to be reasonable but we are much more instinctive than reasonable. And the less we reflect, the less reasonable we shall be.
Good Corporate Governance comprises two key aspects, namely conformance and performance;
Conformance is made up of two elements: monitoring and supervision of executive performance and maintenance of accountability while the performance element is concerned with strategy formulation and policy making. For instance,
the Board of Directors would monitor and supervise executive performances’ conformance to
relevant legislation; values and culture; control systems such as policies, guidelines, quality
assurance, fiscal compliance; risk management; fraud control; internal audit; privacy and risk-averse environment. At the same time the Board of Directors should consider the performance aspect of corporate governance.
This entails that the Board of Directors should set clear outcomes detailing both the expected and actual impact of the governance activities on the community and how the community is better or worse off as a result of these activities.
The directors should indicate the goods and services their organisation will deliver to the public as well as the cost of executing the various activities, the resources that are met by the taxpayers and any decline in the agency’s capability.
Emphasis on conformance has to promote a risk-averse attitude in the Harare City Council employees to the extend that there is need for culture change in the Urban Local Authorities in order to focus them towards achieving desired results and to make them more accountable for their performance.
The next time you get cross with the
waiter because your steak is overcooked, ask reason to step into the cabinet room of your mind, and consult her. She will probably tell you that the waiter did not cook the steak, and had no control over the cooking of the steak; and that even if he alone was to blame, you accomplished nothing good by getting cross; you merely lost your dignity, looked a fool in the eyes of sensible men, and soured the waiter, while producing no effect whatever on the steak.
Every citizen be it the poor, young or older persons, religious or ethnic minorities or handicapped should have equitable access to nutrition, education, employment, health care, shelter, safe drinking water and sanitation.
SirColin believes the practical ways of realising these principles are to provide men and women with equal access to decision making processes, resources and basic services; setting up quotas for women representative in local authorities and encouraging women promotion to higher leadership positions within cities; putting in place bye laws and economic development policies which support the informal sector, and setting up equitable principles for pricing urban services and prioritization of infrastructure development.
I impore effective Corporate Governance should achieve an appropriate balance in the nexus between conformance and performance.
I rest my pen!
Authored by: Colin S. Nyangani (SirColin)
Community Development Consultant
“Voice of the marginalized”