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The residents' commission vs local state administration bodies


Participatory democracy is today a compass that guides the governmental action of States around the world.

The governance model in which the sovereign unilaterally decides on relevant issues of the State is considered obsolete and in progressive discontinuation.

The conviction that the governed have a say in the form and manner in which they are governed has been increasingly proclaimed. With the advent of social networks, and easier access to information, it is increasingly costly for those who govern to prevent the intervention of the governed in the management of public resources.

The Constitution of the Republic of Angola enshrined local power in Article 213.º. Local power constitutes a three-dimensional reality, encompassing the concepts of local authorities, traditional authorities and other forms of citizen participation in public life. The latter finds in the Residents' Commissions one of the forms of manifestation.

Bearing in mind the need to implement the constitutional guidelines on citizen participation in the management of the affairs of the respective Communities, Angola approved the Organic Law on the Organization and Functioning of Residents' Committees - Law No. 7/16, of 1 June, hereinafter Law of the Residents Commissions and its Regulation, which was approved in 2019, through Presidential Decree No.

In this modest article, we intend to reflect on the current relationship between the Residents' Committees and the State's Local Administration Bodies, with a view to trying to uncover the intricacies of this "relationship" that has proven to be necessary and inevitable.



The Residents' Commission can be understood as any legal person governed by public law, resulting from the voluntary and organized union of people residing in a given street, block, neighbourhood, village or town.

The Residents' Commissions are non-partisan and non-profit, endowed with financial and administrative autonomy and have an associative nature, as they result from the union of individuals with a view to pursuing common objectives.

In an administrative district, there should be only one Residents' Commission in respect of the principle of unity. It would be dysfunctional and administratively objectionable, the existence of more than one Residents' Commission in the same circumscription, moreover, such a situation would undoubtedly trigger conflicts of competence and the cohabitation between the two structures would prove to be umbratic.

With regard to the financial and property regime, the Residents' Commissions self-finance their activities, through membership dues and other financial contributions from their members and public and private institutions, exclusively intended for the pursuit of their attributions.



The Residents' Committees guide their activity towards the achievement of objectives that concern the resolution of problems that are common to all members of their constituency.

Considering what was stated in the previous paragraph, it is clear that the promotion of cohesion and the dissemination of the spirit of active participation among residents in the search for the solution of common problems, constitutes the main goal of the Residents' Committees, to which we can associate the following objectives :

a) The resolution of common problems of residents;

b) The promotion of active participation in community life;

c) The promotion of solidarity and cooperation in the community;

d) Improving the quality of life of residents.


3. SKILLS[two]

In the exercise of its attributions, it is incumbent upon the Residents' Commission to cooperate with the bodies of the State's local Administration and with local authorities in matters relating, namely to:

a) Identification of national and foreign residents;

b) Environment and basic urban and rural sanitation;

c) Denouncement of unauthorized construction and illegal occupation of land;

d) Denouncement of illegal immigrants;

e) Denouncement of illegal trade practices;

f) Denouncement of illegal churches and sects;

g) Security and public order;

h) Exercise the right to petition before the competent body of the local administration under the terms of the law and others.


Residents' Commissions are organized in streets, buildings, blocks, villages or other housing complexes.

Currently, in a large part of the country's Municipalities, it appears that the Residents' Committees are implanted in the Neighborhoods. In principle, it seems that this option is in line with the Law, since the Law itself admits such a possibility. However, the Regulation of the Law of Residents' Commissions, restricted the scope of implantation of this figure in urban areas, to streets, blocks and buildings[3].

With due respect, we open a parenthesis to question the legality of the restriction imposed on the Law of Residents' Commissions by the respective Regulation regarding the implementation of Residents' Commissions in urban areas. We understand that we are facing an illegal restriction because the implementing or supplementary regulations must comply with the enabling Law.[4]   


When we pay attention to the legal definition of the Residents' Commission, imposed by number 1 of article 2 of the Residents' Commission Law, we note that it is a structure that results from the voluntary and organized union of people residing in a street, block , neighborhood, village or settlement, this reinforces our thesis of the illegality of the restriction imposed by the Regulation, in relation to the territorial implantation of the Residents' Commissions

The said regulation enshrined a new figure called the Council of Residents, which are representative structures of the Residents’ Committees at different levels [5]. The main function of the Residents' Councils is to ensure coordinated and harmonious action by the Residents' Committees and to represent them before the competent bodies of the State's Local Administration.

The Residents' Councils arise from the need to make the Residents' Committees more effective, by restricting their area of implantation. As it currently stands, the territorial circumscription of a Residents' Committee can extend for kilometers depending on the size of the respective Neighborhood.

The Residents' Commissions were conceived to promote the spirit of participation, solidarity and collaboration among the residents of the respective districts. However, these ends will hardly be achieved with the territorial dimensions occupied by the Residents' Commissions[6]  already exist, hence the need to delimit them to streets, buildings and blocks.  



In order to set up a Residents' Committee, a minimum number of 25 residents of the respective district in which it will be established is required.

Exceptionally, a Residents' Commission may be constituted with less than 25 members/associates, when the total number of residents of the housing complex or territorial district is less than 25, but not less than 5 residents.

Angolan citizens over 18 years of age, residing in the respective housing complex or territorial circumscription, may also be members of the Residents' Commissions, foreign citizens residing in the area of the respective territorial circumscription, for more than one year.

The Residents' Commissions have, in their genesis, two fundamental elements, namely, the volitional element and the democratic element.

From the first, it follows that the Residents' Commission is the product of the free will of a number of residents belonging to a given territorial circumscription. In the process of setting up any Residents' Committee, external intervention should not be allowed,[7]  The act of incorporation resulting from coercion or imposition by any entity is null and void. If the members of a given territorial district believe that the constitution of a Residents' Committee is unnecessary, no one can force them to the contrary, not even the Local Administration bodies of the respective district.

From the second, it follows that the governing bodies of the Residents' Committees must be filled through periodic elections, and the term of office of the members of these bodies is three years, renewable only once.



The Residents' Commission acquires legal personality through the deposit[8], against receipt, of a copy of the minutes of the Constitutive Assembly, the statute and the respective supervisory approval.

Guardianship approval is the act by which, in the exercise of administrative supervision, the Executive Branch confirms compliance with the procedures and requirements necessary for the creation of a Residents' Commission.

The tutelary homologation is of mere legality, it is restricted to the verification of the legal conformity of the statutes and the minutes of the constitutive assembly. The tutelary homologation gives rise to a registration certificate that is issued by the competent body of the Local State Administration of the respective territorial space.

The competent body for issuing the registration certificate is the Municipal Administration of the respective district in which the Residents' Commission is based.



Local Administration is made up of State Administration bodies whose competence is restricted to a portion of the national territory, as opposed to State Central Administration bodies whose competence extends to the entire national territory.

The Provincial Governments are part of the Local Administration of the State, since their powers are restricted to a duly delimited portion of territory, the province.

Under the terms of the Law, the Provincial Governments do not have any power of control over the Residents' Committees.

 The Regulation of the Law on Residents' Commissions clarified this issue, deferring tutelary power over Residents' Commissions to Municipal Administrations and not to Provincial Governments[9].



Under the terms of the Law, the Residents' Commissions are legal persons distinct from the State[10], created under the umbrella of local power and as we have emphasized in the foregoing lines, include, in addition to local authorities and traditional authorities, other specific modalities of citizen participation.

The Executive Power exercises administrative supervision over the Residents' Commissions through the Municipal Administration, which is the entity responsible for the tutelary homologation[11].

The exercise of tutelary power gives the Municipal Administration, in case of violation of the Constitution, the laws and the statutes of the Residents' Commission, the power to dismiss or dissolve the governing bodies of the respective Residents' Commission.


8.1.  Is there a hierarchy relationship between the Municipal Administration and the Residents' Commission?

Bearing in mind the ephemeral approach taken in the preceding paragraphs, it is clear that the Residents' Commission and the Municipal Administration are distinct entities, and, therefore, without any hierarchical relationship. This statement seems to make the question we pose in this point unreasonable. However, in concrete terms, there are certain situations that make it urgent to clarify this aspect.

In practice, situations such as the imposition of the Municipal Administration on the residents of a certain circumscription for the constitution of a Residents' Commission[12], excessive intervention by the Municipal Administration in the process of constituting the Residents' Commissions, including influencing the vote of the residents of the respective districts, or the excessive submission of the holders of the social bodies of the Residents' Commissions to the guidelines issued by the Municipal Administration, presume the existence of a relationship of subordination between the two entities.

Currently, the bodies of the Residents' Committees are commonly confused as an extension of the bodies of the State's Local Administration, noting that they often usurp competences of the Municipal Administrations, practicing privatistic acts of these. For example, the issuance of residence certificates, land concession licenses and death certificates[13].

With regard to the competence of the Residents' Commissions, the principle of completeness prevails, that is, the acts that must be carried out by the Residents' Commissions are those listed in the Law.

Having said that, it is necessary to reiterate that, notwithstanding the powers that the law grants to the Municipal Administration within the scope of the exercise of tutelary power, there is no relationship of subordination between the Municipal Administration and the Residents' Commission.

Another important note has to do with the legal value of the acts carried out by the Residents' Commissions.

Acts such as the issuance of a resident declaration, the issuance of a death certificate and others, which are carried out by the Residents' Committees, are intended exclusively for the Local Administration bodies of the respective territorial space, mainly Municipal and District Administrations, not having any utility or produce any effect with any other public or private body[14].

Thus, the declaration of resident issued by the Vila Flor Neighborhood Resident Commission in the Municipality of Cazenga, with the Administration of the Municipality of Talatona for the purpose of issuing the certificate of residence, or with a Commercial Bank for the purpose of opening bank account[15].



The participatory budget regulation, approved by Presidential Decree n.º 235/19 of July 22nd, was published in Diário da República and created the Citizens’ Budget, which should be used as a tool for financing projects sponsored by the residents of the districts which they will be applied.

Under the terms of the said regulation, the Municipalities will now be awarded an annual budget of 25 million Kwanzas and for the purpose of allocating and managing the said amount, the citizens duly organized into a Commission and Council of Residents will have a relevant role, since they will have the opportunity to participate in the respective decision-making process.

The diploma explains how to apply the said amount, in relation to the purposes and selects five groups of expenses in which it can be applied, namely:

a) Investments and expenses in the operation of public lighting services, green areas and urban cleaning

b) Basic sanitation or service maintenance works;

c) Spending on community centres, which include social policies on food, childhood, youth, seniors, sports and women;

d) Cultural activities and maintenance of libraries;

e) Other relevant expenses with a direct impact on a specific target audience.

The expenses to which the application of the 25 million are intended are those detailed in the lines above, if citizens opt for expenses other than those mentioned, the Administration decides the destination to be given to the money.

Despite the diploma admitting the possibility of citizens individually submitting proposals to the Municipal Administration for the application of this money, we believe that preference will be given to proposals to be presented by Commissions and Councils of Residents, a conjecture that we make taking into account the interest and position of the Executive Power regarding the urgency in the process of conforming the Residents' Commissions to the Law.

The management of the said budget will be the responsibility of a Technical Management Committee, made up of members of the Residents' Committees and Councils, and representatives of the Local Administration. Once again, we are in a position to state that the Residents' Commissions and Municipal Administrations are fated to maintain an inescapable relationship.

Currently, the Ministry of Territorial Administration is carrying out, throughout the country, the work of preparing and creating the conditions for implementing the citizen's budget, through a training program aimed at Residents' Committees and Municipal Administrations, as well as the creation of of the Technical Management Committees of the said Budget.



To conclude our brief exercise, it remains for us to assert with some comfort that between the Residents' Committees and the State's Local Administration Bodies there is a cooperative relationship under the terms of which interaction must prevail with a view to resolving community public affairs. .

On a formal level, the idea of overlapping between the Municipal Administration and Residents' Commissions is non-existent, however, in practice this overlap is striking. This is largely due to the fact that the reality of the Residents' Commissions predates their legal regime, however, the efforts to conform these entities to the laws and regulations now approved, must be permanent in order to endow them with efficiency and effectiveness needed to achieve the objectives that were the basis of its creation.

By way of suggestion, in order to guarantee the independence of the Residents’ Commissions vis-à-vis the State Local Administration bodies, the Municipal Administrations should restrict their intervention in the Residents’ Commissions, intervening only in their functioning, in the situations expressly provided for in the Law.

Likewise, the Residents' Committees must promote, at the level of their circumscriptions, awareness campaigns on the importance of the participation of residents in improving their operating conditions, through the payment of dues and other financial contributions from the respective members.[16]. Only in this way will the Residents' Committees cease to constantly plead for support from the Administrations of the respective Municipalities[17], jeopardizing its independence.



  • Ø Campos, António, Commission of Residents in the Municipality of Sines: from Tradition to Modernity, Symposium held by the Municipality of Sines, within the scope of the Traditions 2016 - 2018 programme.

  • Ø FEIJÓ, Maria Carlos and PACA Cremildo, Administrative Law, Mayamba Editora, year 2013.

  • Ø MARQUES, Aurélio, Citizen and Power: The new perspective of Democracy, Saraiva Editora, year 2013.

  • Ø JOSÉ, Ferreira, A Gestão do Dinheiro de Todos, Ventos Editora, São Paulo Brazil, year 2010.



  • Ø 2010 Constitution of the Republic of Angola;

  • Ø Angolan Civil Code;

  • Ø Organic Law on the Organization and Functioning of Residents' Committees - Law 7/16, of 1 June;

  • Ø Regulation of the Organic Law on the Organization and Functioning of Residents' Committees - Presidential Decree No. 158/19, of May 17th.

  • Ø Strategic Plan for the Revitalization of Residents' Committees - Executive Decree No. 170/20 of 5 June;

  • Ø Presidential Decree n.º 235/19 of 22nd July - Creates the Citizen's Budget.






[1]  Trainee Lawyer at Faria de Bastos,
Lopes & Associados - Law Firm, RL.


[two] The competences mentioned here are merely illustrative, they do not exhaust the list of competences defined either by the Residents' Commission Law or by its Regulation.

[3]Article 4 of the Regulation of the Law on Residents' Committees.

[4]  We learned elsewhere that from the point of view of the relationship with the Law, the regulation can be complementary or independent.

The first develops or deepens the legal discipline contained in a Law, its conception results from the imposition imposed by a Law called Enabling Law.

 In turn, the independent regulations correspond to the regulations that the administrative bodies create in the exercise of their competence in order to ensure an optimal performance of their duties. Thus, these organizations are not obliged by law to objectively and specifically develop a certain legislative command.


[5]  The levels of representation of Residents' Councils obey the following order: Municipality, Commune or Urban District, Neighborhood, Sector, Area of Residence.

[6]  Because they are very extensive, the governing bodies of the Residents' Commissions find it difficult to maintain control of their districts and ensure that the Commission is closer to the citizens.

[7]  By external intervention, we must understand the guidelines and guidelines issued by any entity outside the respective territorial circumscription and that concern, for example: the appointment of people to fill in the corporate bodies instead of carrying out elections.

9 The deposit is made with the Municipal Administration of the area where the Residents' Commission headquarters are located.

[9] Article 33 of the Regulation of the Law on Residents' Commissions.

[10] On other types of public legal persons and their legal nature, see FEIJÓ, Maria Carlos and PACA Cremildo, Administrative Law, Mayamba Editora, year 2013, p. 45

[11]  About the tutelary homologation, see retro pages.

[12]Contrary to the postulate in paragraph 1 of article 11 of the RLCM, which determines that the initiative for the constitution of the Residents' Commission is of a voluntary nature.

[13] Information provided by those responsible for the Ministry of Administration and State Reform, at the seminar on the Revitalization of Residents' Committees, organized in collaboration with UNDP. 

[14]  In practice, private institutions such as commercial banks request the resident's declaration when signing the bank account opening contract.

[15] No. 2 of Article 9 of the Regulation of the Law of the Residents' Commission.

[16] These are some ways of financing the Residents' Commissions, taking into account the financial capacity of its members. These sources may or may not be profitable for the Residents' Commissions themselves.

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