Government finalises details for devolution
... as local authorities’ plan pans out
GOVERNMENT plans to introduce wholesale changes to the national governance architecture by comprehensively decentralising and devolving power and authority - including fiscal, investment and economic responsibilities to each of the country’s 10 provinces.
Government technocrats are understood to be seized with drafting the granular details of the master plan and identifying the legislative adjustments needed to pave way for administrative implementation.
The Sunday Mail has established that a rudimentary framework of the envisaged structure has been agreed on and experts are working on the policy and legal framework.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who promised to devolve power during the 2018 campaign trail, intends to fulfil the pledge in the shortest possible time, while maintaining Zimbabwe as a unitary State as stated in the Constitution.
Last week, Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said devolution was “in its preliminary stages and ongoing”. “His Excellency, the President, Cde E. D.
Mnangagwa, has taken a decision to decentralise socio-economic growth and development to the country’s provinces, the initiative is in its preliminary stages and ongoing.
“Once the necessary consultative processes have been finalised, the initiative will be elucidated further at the appropriate levels and time,” said Dr Sibanda in written responses to The Sunday Mail.
It has been gathered that the planned devolution will be similarly modelled to China’s provinces, which are economic centres that compute their own GDP data for competitiveness purposes.
President Mnangagwa has previously indicated that individual provinces will be assigned specific economic responsibilities in order to individually contribute to national economic development.
Harare Metropolitan will be Zimbabwe’s ICT nerve centre, while Bulawayo Metropolitan will be the country’s industrial hub.
Manicaland province will be the diamond beneficiation centre, with Midlands the iron and steel value-chain beneficiation centre.
Under the preferred model, decentralisation and devolution will be predicated on administrative, political, market and fiscal pillars.
Government is prepared to cede significant administrative, political, market and fiscal power to provinces.
Overall, Government will not only decentralise power, but also give responsibilities to provinces to craft provincial economic development master plans that feed into the national agenda.
Provincial and metropolitan councils will be required to draft and adopt Regional Investment and Development Master Plans, which derive from the National Investment and Development Master Plan.
Government is considering how the national budget will feed into RIDMPs.
Further, decentralisation and devolution is expected to address perceived marginalisation in some areas.
The new political structure is expected to bring Government closer to communities by making it more accessible, responsive and accountable.
It is also expected to enhance participatory governance for local development while localising resource exploitation and spending for local economies.
Section 264 of the Constitution provides for the devolution of Government powers and responsibilities THE Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry has started working on a legal framework and attendant regulations for seamless devolution of power from central Government to local authorities.
This entails aligning laws such as the Provincial Councils and Administration Act to the Constitution.
Discussions are underway on how to balance ministerial authority and devolved power.
Director of urban authorities in the Local Government Ministry, Ms Erica Jones, said: “We have started working on the issue and we had a meeting with the outgoing minister (July Moyo) last week.
“We are now working on aligning some of the legal issues to the Constitution – Acts such as the Provincial Councils and Administration Act, as well as the powers of rural and urban authorities.
“We are also working on how the minister will not interfere with (the) provincial metropolitan minister. We are also working on how the five percent budget will be shared amongst the provincial councils, how this will affect decentralisation and decongestion.
“We are also working on the role of central Government. We are also working on how differentiate between provincial Government worker with a council worker. Those are some of the issues that we are seized with at the moment. It is a huge task, but we (have) started working on it.”
Devolution is expected to help achieve fair and balanced development through provincial councils, which are allowed by the Constitution to set local development priorities.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to put economics ahead of politics in the Second to, among other things, “recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development”.
Also, Section 268 provides for establishment of provincial councils – consisting of senators, two senate chiefs, members of the National Assembly (including Women’s Quota) from the province, mayors and ten persons elected by proportional representation – in the country’s eight rural provinces.
The President and Deputy President of the Republic.
Each province is expected to have its own economic development plans that are underpinned by resources found within its boundaries.
Economic plans will be crafted by provincial councils, led by provincial ministers, whose role will be to spearhead economic development.
In his inauguration speech last Sunday, President Mnangagwa said: “As per our pledge during the campaign trail, my Government will be implementing the constitutional provisions with regards the devolution of Government powers and responsibilities. Provinces will now be expected to plan and grow their provincial economies.
“Economic development at every level is the ultimate goal. I, therefore, challenge local authorities in the Second Republic to be engines of local economic development and growth. My Government will not stand by and watch people suffer due to dereliction of duty, corruption or incompetence within our local authorities.”
Urban and rural planning expert Mr Nyasha Mutsinikwa said devolution would foster development as it would cater for specific needs for residents.
“Devolution has been on the cards for a long time; thus, talking about and taking steps to implement it is a positive move.
“Local authorities are bound to foster development and speak directly to the needs of residents as they would be taking the lead in solving their problems and coming up with solutions,” he said.
African countries that have embraced devolution include Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.
In South Africa, the devolved system of governance has seen provinces funding 85 percent of their budgetary needs. National Council of Chiefs are members of the council, particularly where their areas fall within the province concerned.
For Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan councils, the membership will include the mayor, who will chair the Metropolitan Council, all members of the National Assembly and Senators.
The Constitution requires Government to enact an Act of Parliament to establish and operationalise the councils.