Digital transformation of Zimbabwe local government
05 October 2021
Local government, like many industries, is under pressure to digitally transform. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed even more pressure on local government to hasten the process of joining the 4th industrial revolution, through the use of technology, to ensure efficient service delivery in the face of growing public demand for services, and the current unprecedented cuts in expenditure within the public sector.
Electronic system for improved service delivery
Prior to the current pandemic CLGF, in partnership with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Local Government, initially rolled out the Local Authorities Digital System (LADS) to six local authorities. LADS includes an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System and an Integrated Financial Management Information System that digitally connect local authorities for improved procurement, project management, risk management, compliance, financial performance, control expenditure, budgeting and financial reporting. To ensure successful implementation of the project, an integrated approach has been adopted by providing local authorities with the necessary capacity building, technical and financial support.
Results to date have proven that LADS is capable of improving service delivery. After this success, LADS is being rolled out to all local authorities in Zimbabwe as a response to the local government ICT, operations and financial management.
In accepting LADS, the Minister of Local Government, Hon Mr July Moyo, emphasised the benefits and said: “LADS will enable local authorities to establish their fiscal capacity, which they can translate into revenue for service delivery improvement.”
LADS successes in City of Mutare
The City of Mutare has made very significant progress in the implementation and usage of LADS in the finance and housing departments. The Finance Department is currently running the debt management, procurement and budgeting modules. The success of these modules has seen the city increasing its revenue collection from 35% to nearly 72%. The increase in revenue has assisted in clearing all salary arrears, paying all statutory obligations, and resuming service delivery projects, such as provision of water.
The Housing Department is using the Waiting List, Lease Management, Cemetery and Registry Modules and Programme Based Budgeting. More modules to cover other the functions of the Housing Department are being developed and tested. With this, the City of Mutare has become the learning centre for LADS in Zimbabwe. The Director of Finance, Mr Blessing Chafesuka, and Director of Housing, Mrs Emma Mandiziva, have on several occasions been called by the Minister of Local Government to give presentations on LADS to demonstrate how it is improving service delivery, revenue mobilisation and operational efficiency in the Mutare.
Confirming that the support from CLGF came at a most opportune time, Mr Blessing Chafesuka explained: “This happened when we were in the process of reorganising and restructuring the city’s housing delivery system, making it more efficient and responsive to customer needs. LADS was an appropriate solution to our housing delivery challenges and the future trajectory.”
Harare Metropolitan Province pilots digital
CLGF, together with its partners, are currently engaging various stakeholders to develop a central connection for LADS so that all local authorities can access and use it through the web-based Virtual Private Networking (VPN), to be established at the National Data Centre. The use of a VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between the local authorities and the National Data Centre. The use of cloud computing through the National Data Centre servers will provide the required connections to already existing secure data space. Local authorities will save a lot of resources because LADS will be centrally installed and accessed. There will be no need for local authorities to heavily invest in servers, instead they will connect with ease and at reduced costs.
Technical support will be provided remotely to local authorities, reducing down time, costs and travelling time. Most importantly, central connection will enable easier oversight by central government. This oversight is a much needed part of an IFMIS that will reduce inefficiencies, corruption and fraudulent activities. The VPN as part of the IFMIS component of the project is currently being piloted in four local authorities within the Harare Metropolitan Province, before a country-wide roll-out.
Critical step to learning and confidence building
Mr Leopold Bhoroma, CLGF’s Zimbabwe Regional Project Manager stated: “So far the uptake and feedback by the local authorities in Harare Metropolitan Province has been good. There is still a lot of advocacy work needed to ensure that systemic challenges, negative perceptions and resistance to changes among local authority staff is managed”.
He continued: “The success of VPN enabled IFMIS in Harare Province is a critical step for learning and confidence building towards the full adoption and implementation of LADS as a local government ERP and IFMIS”.
CLGF plans intends to expand its digital transformation support to local authorities in the Commonwealth to improve service delivery by local government.
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