Devolution key to cleaning up mess in councils 

Source: Devolution key to cleaning up mess in councils – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 4, 2018

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa last week accused MDC-T run councils of performing badly and urged Zanu PF supporters to vote them out.

Mnangagwa was right, some MDC-T councils have been woeful and certainly voters must think twice before retaining them.

But that is half the story.

Successive Zanu PF governments have directly influenced councils’ performances and the ruling party is as much as to blame.

For example, Zimbabweans in 2013 overwhelmingly voted to have devolution of power included in the Constitution, but five years later, the Zanu PF government has been obstinate and ignored this constitutional provision.

Had power been devolved to local authorities according to the law, then every council would have been measured on its performances rather than this situation where they are blamed for the government’s failures or interferences.

For example, Harare City Council has been operating without a substantive town clerk for the past three years because the government has halted the process to appoint one on whimsical excuses.

Bulawayo City Council also had its deputy mayor suspended, while something resembling a dog’s breakfast was playing out in Chitungwiza.

It is like local councils are expected to perform with one hand tied behind their backs, yet their expected to work out miracles.

While devolution of power is enshrined in the Constitution, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa literally called for a Constitutional amendment, saying the government did not have money to implement that provision.

Such hypocrisy.

What he should have been telling Zimbabweans is what he will do to raise money for a project that the nation voted for overwhelming.

Mnangagwa cannot blame local authorities for a problem that is entirely of his party’s and government’s making.

This is not to say local councils are blameless, but rather, they have been handicapped by the very people that are now blaming them for failing in service delivery.
Local authorities can only be judged on what they can implement and they should rightfully pass the buck to central government, which has an obsession with centralising everything.

Going into this election, Mnangagwa needs to tell Zimbabweans what he plans to do to effect devolution of power and how he intends to empower local councils.
When Mnangagwa accuses local councils of failure, he is inadvertently blaming his own government, because local government’s failures have their origin at his government’s door, where there is an fixation to control everything, while taking responsibility for nothing.