Devolution implementation under spotlight

By Mandla Tshuma

The ongoing implementation of devolution by the government has come under spotlight, as the concept is still yet to fully take shape.

Devolution was adopted six years ago in the constitution, but was shunned by former president, Robert Mugabe’s government, who vocal, during the constitution-making process were opposed to it.

When the Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration came into power, it promised to implement it but observers are skeptical seeing that the ruling party has always viewed devolution as divisive and likely to lead to secession.

Besides, the authorities have continually been jittery when it came to its implementation despite numerous calls from citizens for the government to act on it.

However, President Mnangagwa’s administration has continuously claimed that devolution will not remain a pipe dream and said it is a way that could help Zimbabwe rebuild her shrinking economy.

In his 2019 National budget, Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, set aside ZW$310 million for the implantation of devolution and during the mid year budget review and supplementary budget, he reviewed the figure upwards to ZWL$703 million .

Some local authorities have reportedly started accessing that funding, but surprisingly before Provincial Councils are yet to be inaugurated.

In Gweru recently, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, July Moyo, disclosed that the government would soon be paying salaries to those selected into Provincial Councils.

“President Mnangagwa has approved that all those elected into Provincial Councils start receiving payments or salaries, so we are starting to pay them so that they become full Provincial Council members who have a Constitutional duty and mandate to be in those positions,” he said.

However, it remains to be seen how far the process would unfold.

Rejoice Ngwenya, a political analyst, however, said there was no way a Zanu PF led government could implement a meaningful devolution concept.

“Mnangagwa cannot be sincere with anything that takes real power from the centre,” Ngwenya told CITE.

He said some pieces of legislation governing operations of local authorities had to be done away with for devolution to be effective.

“Up until the laws that restrict councils to do their work are repealed, no amount of devolution can work. Moreover, the existence of ‘provincial ministers’ is an anathema to devolution,” argued Ngwenya.

“Real devolution is when Provincial Councils are independent, both institutionally and funding wise.”

Zimbabwe Communist Party General Secretary, Nicholas Ngqabutho Mabhena said:

“The implementation of devolution of power is always welcome as guided by the 2013 Constitution but there is a difference between the intention to do so and the actual implementation. Its implementation should include what I term fiscal devolution of power.”

Mabhena explained that true devolution should empower people to make decisions about their resources, citing minerals as an example.

“We truly welcome devolution and we hope it is not a talk show,” he emphasised.

He also called for a clear national plan listing the implementation of the devolution agenda, incorporating all governance structures from ward, district and then to national level.

Fortune Mlalazi, another political analyst, said it would be difficult for many to believe that President Mnangagwa will properly implement devolution considering his party’s previous stance on the issue.

“If he does (implement devolution), that will be a plus for us,” he said, unconvinced.

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