$3bn disbursed for Mat South devolution projects

Source: The Chronicle – Breaking news

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, sukulwenkosi.dube@chronicle.co.zw

GOVERNMENT disbursed over $3 billion in devolution funds to rural local authorities in Matabeleland South province in 2023, which resulted in improved implementation of key service delivery projects.

This year, the Government has allocated $10 billion to the province’s seven rural local authorities to buttress ongoing developmental works.

Devolution funds have assisted local authorities in the province to fulfil their obligation of ensuring improved access to social amenities across the country through developing key infrastructure such as clinics, classroom blocks, roads, bridges, and street lights, among others.

The upgrading of infrastructure is in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), a national five-year economic management masterplan running from 2021 to 2025.

Under NDS1, the Government is focusing on building, expanding, and restoring key enabler infrastructure such as roads and energy. Infrastructure development is expected to play a key role in ensuring that the country attains an upper-middle-income economy by 2030. 

Speaking on behalf of rural councils during a recent Matabeleland South Provincial Development Committee (PDC) meeting, Mangwe Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Bongani Ngwenya, said the devolution funds have helped councils to fulfil their service delivery obligations.

“We want to thank the Government for devolution funds. The funds have really made a difference for local authorities, in terms of infrastructure development and giving life to local economies and generally improving service delivery by local authorities,” he said. 

“We are grateful for the input from the Government. The devolution funds have gone to various sectors, which include education, health, WASH, roads and we have also purchased equipment.

Dumba Clinic in rural Beitbridge

“We are guided as we use devolution funds on what we can and what we can’t use devolution funds for. Generally, we can use the funds for infrastructure development such as roads, street lighting, clinics, and schools. We are also guided to use devolution funds for provision of WASH services.”

Throughout the province all seven local authorities have built schools using devolution funds as well as clinics and renovations of key public assets using devolution funds. 

Mr Ngwenya said schools have been constructed in several communities across the province thereby reducing distances walked by learners and reducing cases of children dropping out of school. Clinics have been built in areas where communities were struggling to access health care services.

In Bulilima devolution funds have assisted with works on Madlambuzi, Mbimba, Makumbi, Mambo and Gwambe Clinics, Mafa Primary, Hingwe Primary, Goba, Zompata and Ndiweni primary schools. In Mangwe projects include Greystone Primary, Makorokoro Secondary, Marula Secondary, Mzila Primary, Ekukhanyeni Secondary, Makorokoro Clinic, Izimnyama Clinic, and renovations at Marula Clinic. 

Umzingwane projects include the construction of Shale Primary classroom block, Zimbili Clinic renovation, tower lights upgrade and purchase of office furniture. In Matobo, major projects include Mlugulu Clinic, which was commissioned this year, renovations on Gwangwe Primary and Sakhonjani Primary School. 

In Insiza projects include Montrose Clinic, Shangani Secondary, Fort Rixon Secondary, Artherstone Primary, Bekezela Township Market upgrade, and the purchasing of a motorised grader.

Beitbridge RDC projects include Dumba Clinic, electrification of Mazumba Clinic, Mtangamuchena Secondary and Matshiloni Secondary School classroom block construction. Gwanda RDC projects include Tshanyaugwe Clinic construction, Garanyemba Clinic waiting mother’s shelter, Mashaba Clinic waiting mother’s shelter, Zhukwe Primary ECD shelter, Zhukwe Primary ECD block, Makokwe Primary School ECD block. 

“The challenge we faced is that most of the local authorities received about a quarter of their allocation for the year. 

“This has implications on planning and implementation of the projects. Local authorities were not able to achieve all that we had planned for. The disbursement of devolution funds is also erratic, which makes it difficult to plan,” said Mr Ngwenya. 

“Small disbursements of the devolution funds in the local currency compromise the use of the money. We also face a challenge as the devolution funds are in our local currency but we make our purchases in US dollar.”

Under President Mnangagwa, the Government has seen it prudent to operationalise the devolution concept as enshrined in the Constitution, resulting in five percent of fiscal disbursement from Treasury being made to local authorities. 

The funds have transformed several districts in the Matabeleland region, in particular, and the country in general, as the Second Republic steps up the inclusive developmental philosophy of leaving no one and no place behind. The devolution programme is one of the key pillars under the NSD1, which is the country’s first five-year medium-term plan aimed at realising the country’s Vision 2030 while simultaneously addressing the global aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa Agenda 2063.