De­vo­lu­tion drive moves gear up

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

GOV­ERN­MENT has set in mo­tion pro­cesses to fine-tune the Na­tional Con­sti­tu­tion and re­lated statu­tory laws to ex­clude leg­is­la­tors from pro­vin­cial and met­ro­pol­i­tan coun­cils un­der the de­vo­lu­tion model meant to spear­head so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment across the coun­try.

Pro­vin­cial and met­ro­pol­i­tan coun­cils are pro­vided for un­der Sec­tion 268 (Chap­ter 14) of the Na­tional Con­sti­tu­tion with leg­is­la­tors meant to be mem­bers of coun­cils.

How­ever, there is con­cern over the in­clu­sion of leg­is­la­tors in the pro­vin­cial and met­ro­pol­i­tan coun­cils, with le­gal ex­perts ar­gu­ing this would ham­per the over­sight role of Par­lia­ment.

Our Harare Bu­reau has gath­ered that the Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional Hous­ing, in whose am­bit the de­vo­lu­tion agenda rests, to­gether with the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice is cur­rently draft­ing en­abling leg­is­la­tion for the de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion drive.

The pro­pos­als will soon be taken to Cabi­net and Par­lia­ment.

Gov­ern­ment is also work­ing on rec­ti­fy­ing the is­sue of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion of coun­cil­lors and chair­per­sons in met­ro­pol­i­tan coun­cils.

Cur­rently there are rep­re­sen­ta­tion coun­cil­lors

Bu­l­awayo met­ro­pol­i­tans.

It is un­der­stood that an­other grey area is on the pro­vi­sion to have the mayor of the largest city in the province as chair­per­son of the coun­cil to be deputised by the mayor of the sec­ond largest town in that province.

How­ever, Bu­l­awayo Met­ro­pol­i­tan does not have a sec­ond largest town.

In an in­ter­view, Min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional no pro­por­tional

in Harare and Hous­ing July Moyo said Gov­ern­ment was in the process of fine-tun­ing var­i­ous ar­eas to en­able the smooth roll out of the de­vo­lu­tion agenda.

“There is a con­tra­dic­tion when it comes to fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions in Chap­ter 17, Par­lia­ment has the over­all su­per­vi­sion of all ex­pen­di­tures,” he said.

“Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment are the ones that vote in Par­lia­ment for the funds used at met­ro­pol­i­tan and pro­vin­cial coun­cils.

“So if there is abuse of funds at these coun­cils, do you ex­pect the same leg­is­la­tors to con­demn the abuse of funds in Par­lia­ment when they in turn are part of the pro­vin­cial coun­cils?

“There is a con­flict of in­ter­est, that is what the Pres­i­dent is talk­ing about. That is why we must cor­rect it.

“Cabi­net has al­ready ap­proved prin­ci­ples which are al­ready in the Con­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing pointed out con­tra­dic­tions.

“Right now we are draft­ing the en­abling leg­is­la­tion which in­cludes the con­tra­dic­tions, the le­gal draft­ing is done by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral.

“The At­tor­ney Gen­eral will pro­pose how we get out of this, I will take the pro­pos­als to Cabi­net and from there I will take it to Par­lia­ment.

“Par­lia­ment will then de­cide the way for­ward, through the Par­lia­men­tary le­gal com­mit­tee. If it fails we then take to Con­sti­tu­tional Court. We will come up with a solution that will make us con­tinue with de­vo­lu­tion.

“The first as­pect of de­vo­lu­tion to com­ply with the Con­sti­tu­tion and point out the con­tra­dic­tions with the Con­sti­tu­tion, that we are now ad­vanced.

“The sec­ond as­pect is the pro­vin­cial coun­cil, how­ever, when it comes to met­ro­pol­i­tan coun­cils which is Harare and Bu­l­awayo, the Con­sti­tu­tion says the chair­man is sup­posed to be a mayor of Harare deputised by the sec­ond largest town’s mayor which is Chi­tung­wiza, but in Bu­l­awayo the mayor does not have a deputy (com­ing from the sec­ond largest town).

“In ad­di­tion Harare and Bu­l­awayo do not have 10 coun­cils elected on pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion. “We have to seek so­lu­tions through Cabi­net and Par­lia­ment on these matters. These are some of these is­sues we are grap­pling with on Con­sti­tu­tion and statu­tory laws.”

Min­is­ter Moyo also high­lighted that Gov­ern­ment would come up with a cri­te­ria on how the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion to pro­vin­cial coun­cils would be dis­trib­uted eq­ui­tably.

In 2019 bud­get Gov­ern­ment has al­ready set aside $310 mil­lion for the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of pro­vin­cial coun­cils.

Min­is­ter Moyo said un­der the de­vo­lu­tion model, pro­vin­cial coun­cils will be al­lowed to hire their own per­son­nel with­out in­ter­fer­ence from the cen­tral Gov­ern­ment.

“What is nec­es­sary now is we have 10 pro­vin­cial coun­cils and 92 lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, we have $310 mil­lion, how are we go­ing to give to each, we have to put it in statutes so that there is a cri­te­ria on how the money will dis­trib­uted,” he said.

“In terms of hu­man re­sources, pro­vin­cial coun­cils and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will be al­lowed to hire their own per­son­nel, how­ever, when it comes to Town Clerk, deputy Town Clerk, heads of de­part­ments and their deputies, their names will for­warded to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Board for ap­proval.

“We are still de­bat­ing fur­ther on op­er­a­tional mech­a­nisms be­cause lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have by-laws, so what will the pro­vin­cial coun­cils have? Other ju­ris­dic­tions are say­ing pro­vin­cial coun­cils will have or­di­nances.

“Both by-laws and or­di­nances have leg­isla­tive pow­ers. This is what we want in de­vo­lu­tion; we want the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to have pow­ers.

“Their by-laws and or­di­nances will how­ever, have to go through the re­spon­si­ble Min­is­ter and then to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral.”

Min­is­ter Moyo said Gov­ern­ment would ag­gre­gate pro­vin­cial GDP for com­pet­i­tive­ness pur­poses, a sys­tem mod­elled around China’s de­vo­lu­tion struc­ture.

The coun­cils will be re­quired to come up with Re­gional In­vest­ment and De­vel­op­ment Mas­ter Plans, which de­rive from the Na­tional In­vest­ment and De­vel­op­ment Mas­ter Plan.

In his in­au­gu­ra­tion speech 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.”

Min­is­ter July Moyo

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