MPs out of provincial councils
LEGISLATORS will not sit on provincial and metropolitan councils as part of the twin commitments of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government to separation of powers and a devolution model that brings meaningful development across the country.
The exclusion of Senators and National Assembly representatives will also mean a leaner, efficient structure whose budgets are expended more on gainful economic activity than remuneration.
In his weekly column in The Sunday Mail, President Mnangagwa says his administration is fine-tuning laws to operationalise the councils.
Provincial and metropolitan councils are provided for in Section 268 (Chapter 14)
of the Constitution, with the mandate to spearhead social and economic development across the country.
The Head of State and Government says, “Looking at what is provided for under provincial and metropolitan councils, one is struck by a glaring anomaly. These councils are constitutionally created to drive the local development agenda. Yet their constitution and composition include legislators (Senators and members of the National Assembly).
“Chapter 14 thus does not seem to distinguish between legislative roles and executive functions. By so doing, it offends against the doctrine of separation of powers. This area needs tidying up, lest those running those proposed councils will end up accounting to themselves.”
At present, the law says the eight (rural) provincial councils will consist of senators, two senate chiefs, members of the National Assembly (including Women’s Quota) and mayors from the province; and ten persons elected by proportional representation.
The President and Deputy President of the National Council of Chiefs are members of the council in their home provinces.
For the Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan councils, the membership will include the mayor (chairperson), and all members of the National Assembly and Senators from the provinces.
The President says the councils should not be ungainly bureaucracies, pointing out that the $310 million allocated to devolution in the 2019 National Budget is a game-changer in the context of Zimbabwe’s governance matrix.
“The 2019 Budget, thus, marks a major shift in Government’s management of public affairs. I read Chapter 14 as enjoining provinces, districts and communities to become active, lead actors in the creation of national wealth and jobs, using resources and opportunities found within their environs.
“That changes the development model to one where growth and development are initiated and implemented by provinces, with central Government playing facilitator and arbiter to the whole process.”
President Mnangagwa says devolution will end inordinately high dependence on central Government, leaving provinces to competitively focus on growth.
“It is a departure from the hub-and-spokes model where everything starts and ends up with central Government.
“The one central and centralised hub gives way to several economic hubs, each of which is located within a province, and each of which derives impetus from resources found in that province.
“That way growth becomes spatially spread, thus allowing competitive partnerships within one national whole, and even development happening concurrently across all regions and communities.
“Only then will economic growth and development enhance national unity and cohesion which our Constitution envisages.”
The Sunday Mail understands that devolution could be modelled along China’s system, where provinces economic centres that compute their own GDP data for competitiveness purposes.
President Mnangagwa has previously indicated that provinces will be assigned specific economic responsibilities.
For example, Harare Metropolitan will be Zimbabwe’s ICT nerve centre, while Bulawayo Metropolitan will be the industrial hub. Manicaland will be the diamond beneficiation centre, with Midlands the hub of the iron and steel value-chain.
Government could give provinces the responsibility to craft provincial economic development master plans that feed into the national agenda.
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 after the July 2018 Presidential elections, 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.”