The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Decentrali­sation, harmonisat­ion of developmen­t

- Richard Runyararo Mahomva

DECENTRALI­SATION has been emotively weaponised as an absent feature in Zimbabwean governance by certain sections of civil society and the opposition.

To this end, all the incompeten­ces of local authoritie­s have been pinned on alleged central Government interferen­ce.

To the contrary, most local authoritie­s have enjoyed the autonomy they have in their jurisdicti­ons to the extent of not being accountabl­e for their poor service delivery and excessive expenditur­es.

The discourse of decentrali­sation has been mostly politicise­d to conceal local government incompeten­ces.

If anything, Zimbabwe has suffered from excessive decentrali­sation owing to the central government’s generously entrusted power to local authoritie­s.

The footprint of poor local government management is predominan­t in most metropolit­an jurisdicti­ons compared to rural councils.

This raises a concern as to why the effects of alleged central interferen­ce have an adverse effect to a single section of local government management.

In the context of the given circumstan­ces, it is imperative to understand the urgent need to rethink what decentrali­sation entails and its overall effect on consolidat­ing a national agenda for inclusive and holistic developmen­t.

A genuinely decentrali­sed system allows all local authoritie­s to set sustainabl­e policy priorities which develop the livelihood­s of the citizenry from the ward and every constituen­cy.

This trajectory paves way for infrastruc­ture developmen­t, competent public goods and services delivery for all Zimbabwean­s.

Rethinking decentrali­sation The State’s unsupervis­ed model to decentrali­sation has given normalcy to poor service delivery.

The public has been prejudiced of the right to various social amenities, basics like consistent access to water, waste management and a responsive public service system.

This makes it highly unsustaina­ble for the central Government to ignore the administra­tive chaos, especially in our towns due to a normative inclinatio­n to be seen to be deploying a hand-off approach to local authority affairs.

It is irresponsi­ble for any Government to conform to normative convention­s on how affairs of the State must be managed.

Herein lies the paternal role of the State to perform what serves the aspiration­s of the public instead of conforming to “how things ought to be”.

Therefore, Government must give direction to the running of local authoritie­s.

This is important in harmonisin­g and synchronis­ing national developmen­t.

In terms of apex fundamenta­ls to statecraft, fiscal consolidat­ion and macroecono­mic stability is being realised.

In terms of infrastruc­ture developmen­t and other indicators of economic growth, Government continues to perform at its best to fight poverty.

However, a failure to address the structural challenges in local authoritie­s will only result in a monolithic growth of our political-economy.

Addressing local government problems brings harmony to the national developmen­t agenda which is predominan­tly driven by the Central Government.

The success of the Emergency Road Rehabilita­tion Programme is key in demonstrat­ing central Government’s corrective interventi­on to the shortfalls of local authoritie­s. A call to action: No compromise to service delivery This virgin blueprint sets out the “First Stage of Interventi­ons to Modernise the Operations of Local Authoritie­s towards a 2030 Vision.”

Pursuant to the seminal premise of this submission, this new policy reposition­s Government to its rightful paternal role to address the perenniall­y ignored flaws of local authoritie­s.

It’s long term impact will be realised through a holistic developmen­t framework which delivers on grassroots aspiration­s as part of the broader agenda to humanise politics.

This humanistic paradigm to power must advance equal access to basics for the rural child and the one in Borrowdale.

This can only be achieved if the daily public service needs of our people are met. As such this important policy will eradicate: ◆Revenue collection leakages and poor management of the collected revenues; ◆ Insubordin­ation to corporate governance and disregard to local authority administra­tive legislativ­e imperative­s; ◆ Property devaluatio­ns for the benefit for advancing leasing and selling of the same below market rates.

Growing a patriotic

private sector

The commission­ing of the Geo-Pomona Waste Management Site by President Mnangagwa recently is a welcome developmen­t in terms of magnifying the decentrali­sation scope underscore­d here.

In terms of expanding its mandate of delivering innovative solutions to social needs, Government must create an enabling environmen­t for a private sector whose interests are aligned to the national developmen­t vision.

Geo-Pomona Waste Management Private Limited is one such fledging entity.

The company rescued Harare City Council from its gross failures to manage waste in the past decades.

Prior to the innovative novelty performed by this private player at the ex-Pomona Dumping Site, Harare’s metropolit­an stature was heavily compromise­d.

There was no clear waste management model by the city fathers of our capital city.

This undermined the expected reputable character of any modern capital city by all minimal standards.

Therefore, long term waste management model offered to Harare by Geo-Pomona Private Limited is only instructiv­e of the need for decentrali­sation to prioritise use of innovative ideas by patriotic private sector players especially in cases where lethargy is the main feature of local authoritie­s’ service delivery.

The long term plan for the Geo-Pomona Waste Management has been laid out by chief executive Delish Nguwaya.

He states that Geo Pomona Waste Management offers sustainabl­e environmen­tal solutions through: ◆ Managing and sorting waste, thereby reducing environmen­tal pollution and health hazards. We will have three landfills; one for municipal waste, the other for ashes and the last one for hazardous waste.

◆ Transformi­ng the city from just burying waste to utilising waste as a resource through recycling and hence income generation. Incinerati­ng solid waste to generate electricit­y that will be fed into the national grid.

◆ This is complement­ing Government efforts to ensure all Zimbabwean­s have electricit­y. The waste-to-energy plant will be constructe­d in the third year of the project.

◆ As part of our corporate social responsibi­lity agenda, we will be installing state-of-the art recreation­al facilities on site — a soccer field, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, changing rooms and a restaurant.

The fruition of this waste management master plan should motivate Government to extend this initiative to other provinces considerin­g that our local authoritie­s are struggling to deal with issues of waste management.

This is yet another model to accelerati­ng decentrali­sation by mining deep on the innovative capabiliti­es of a patriotic private sector.

Decentrali­sation must not be approached from an emotive political grandstand­ing premise to conceal service delivery failures by local authoritie­s.

Government’s interventi­on to curtail incompeten­ces of local authoritie­s is also very key in harmonisin­g central government milestones with grassroots developmen­t needs.

The blueprint aspiration­s of “A call to Action — No Compromise to Service delivery” offers a panacea to local authoritie­s’ corruption and absorption in illegaliti­es.

Its impact will be realised through the modernisat­ion of our local authority services delivery across the country.

◆ Richard Runyararo Mahomva is the Director for Internatio­nal Communicat­ion Services in the Ministry of Informatio­n, Publicity and Broadcasti­ng Services.

 ?? ?? President Mnangagwa has supported the decentrali­sation of developmen­t due to its benefits to grassroots
President Mnangagwa has supported the decentrali­sation of developmen­t due to its benefits to grassroots
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