International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Challenges of Self-Financing in Local Authorities The Case of Zimbabwe
Zhou Gideon, Chilunjika Alouis

A vibrant local authority system constitutes the bedrock for sound public administration and the promotion of bottom-up socioeconomic development. It enhances government responsiveness to local communities and also serves as the forum for robust and sustainable grassroots participation. The paper examines self-financing efforts in local government authorities in Zimbabwe against the background of perceived declines in transfers from central government. Study findings indicate that while local authorities in Zimbabwe exercise varying taxing and expenditure powers under the rubric of fiscal decentralisation, creating a buoyant self-financing base is compromised by interlocking factors that include continued central government grip, limited revenue base, failure to devise long range revenue optimising strategies, political interference, and an institutionalised culture of rentseeking. While property tax is a promising revenue source for local authorities in Zimbabwe, it remains among the least tapped sources of tax revenue due to absence of fiscal cadastre information, lack of valuators, inaccurate valuations, and inept collection enforcement. Zimbabwe is yet to create an up to-date information base on commercial, mining, residential and agricultural activities. In both rural and urban areas, land ownership remains tenuous and therefore difficult to tax. Rural local authorities are yet to devise strategies to effectively mobilise royalties from mining and agricultural activities in their localities while urban local authorities tend to rely on predatory user charges. Unfolding scenarios over the decades underline the need for a paradigmatic shift in local authority self-financing strategies by placing more emphasis on property tax revenue collection and enhancing revenue planning and optimizing strategies, among others.

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