By VENERANDA LANGA
GOVERNMENT has gazetted the Provincial Councils Administration Amendment Bill which will align the Provincial Councils and Administration Act to the 2013 Constitution and operationalise devolution.
The Bill comes soon after Parliamentarians last month grilled Local Government deputy minister Marian Chombo over failure by her ministry to release funds allocated towards devolution in terms of section 301(3) of the Constitution.
Chombo said there was need for a devolution law which would ensure that the funds were channelled to different provinces and local authorities, so that they could spearhead developmental projects.
However, some of the amendments in the Provincial Councils and Administration Amendment Bill will give powers to Provincial Affairs ministers, who are central government appointees.
Section 2 of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act will, for instance, be amended by the deletion of “Provincial Governors” wherever it appears and will be substituted by “Minister of State and Devolution”.
Constitutional expert and law lecturer James Tsabora said the Bill needed thorough scrutiny by policymakers before it is passed as it gave too much power to central government and was not in tandem with the spirit of devolution in most of its provisions.
“There are several provisions in the Bill that do not promote the essence of devolution. There is retention of powers of central government in certain key areas and this needs to be revisited,” Tsabora said.
“There is also duplication of roles in the Bill; as is the role and function of Provincial Affairs ministers and provincial developmental co-ordinators. As it stands, the several bodies created has duplicated roles and responsibilities and this is unnecessary.
“The Bill downplays the roles of the metropolitan and provincial councils, instead of being centred on these. In some way, the Bill anticipates problems that might be caused by multi -partysm. It makes sure that it sticks with the Provincial Affairs minister and provincial development co-ordinators, who are central government
Government also gazetted the Public Finance Management Bill, which will amend section 4(1) of the Public Finance Management Act to provide for provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities.