‘Devolution advisory board needed’
A BULAWAYO based think-tank, the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PPRIZ) has praised the Government for setting the pace on devolution, but quickly pointed out that there is a need to come up with an advisory board that will oversee the process of devolution and ensure there is progress in the implementation of the policy.
In an interview, PPRIZ director Dr Gorden Moyo said it was essential that the process of devolution be overseen by an independent body to ensure transparency.
“We as PPRIZ propose that the Government come up with a devolution authority at national level responsible for training of the new structures, enabling the devolution structures to separate their mandate, central Government, provincial Government mandate and the local authority’s mandate.
“We believe it’s important. In Kenya they came up with the devolution advisory council which was responsible for coming up with policies and provide technical and professional advice to the Government making sure there is no partisanship in coming up with the structures of devolution and that is what is needed here in Zimbabwe,” said Dr Moyo.
He said the advisory board should be composed of technocrats and not people appointed along political party lines.
“Devolution will not be an easy thing to implement, we have seen it in Kenya. People are resistant to change naturally and devolution includes that shifting of geographies of power from the centre to the periphery and this move is never easy. There is also a challenge of resources as a new structure will be born,” he said.
Dr Moyo, however, said devolution was a necessary process.
“We want to take the Government’s word as a policy institute; we do not want to doubt them. Our responsibility is to ensure the right policies are put in place, advise the Government on them and also criticise them.
“For now we are waiting to see the institutionalisation of devolution. For us the most important is economic devolution because it is an architecture of Government that can help turn around the economy,” he said.
Dr Moyo said local democracy was vital and instead of policies being churned down from the centre to the peripheries, people begin to make decisions at local level whether they are on development, economy, culture or sports.
“The other stage was on local economies where local authorities must determine their economic activities and Government to support that. Local development is then moving in to infrastructural development at the level of provinces,” he said.
Dr Moyo also said despite the amendments having not been done yet to accommodate devolution of power in the Constitution, there were some emerging points.
“Members of Parliament who have been elected to sit at national level must not sit at the devolution structures. We support that at PPRIZ as it is a good idea. Media reports also say the provincial ministers will be incorporated in the provincial councils which is okay because these ministers should be accountable to a local or provincial board instead of the provincial ministers being a representative of the ruling party in the province, they must be representatives of the people at national level they must get their mandates from the provincial councils.”