Devolution leaving no place behind

Source: Devolution leaving no place behind | Sunday Mail

Chapters 14, 15 and 17 of our Constitution present devolution as one of the founding values and principles of our Republic.

The supreme law of the land provides that devolution must engender preservation of national unity, prevention of all forms of secessionism and guarantee the democratic participation in Government by all citizens and communities in Zimbabwe.

Devolution, as a developmental concept, was introduced through promulgation of the Constitution when it was signed into law on May 22, 2013.

Regrettably, the previous administration had overlooked implementation of this key developmental instrument, blunting its apparent efficacy as a conduit for the upliftment of communities and citizens’ involvement in governance.

For many living in the so called “marginalised areas”, inclusive development remained a pipe dream. Development, it seemed, was only concentrated in key urban centres, primarily Harare.

Ahead of the 2018 harmonised election, President Mnangagwa was clear that the devolution agenda was to be a centrepiece of his national development programme.

“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,” said President Mnangagwa in his inauguration speech on August 26, 2018.

“Economic development at every level is the ultimate goal.

“I, therefore, challenge local authorities in the Second Republic, to be the engines of local economic development and growth.”

True to his word, the New Dispensation spared little time in deploying this instrument and it has delivered.

The results are there for all to see.

Having undertaken intense due diligence in preparation for the roll-out, the Second Republic identified key developmental gaps in need of address as a conduit for equitable development.

The idea was to take development right to people’s doorsteps.

The Government identified key pillars of infrastructure development which were to underpin the roll-out over a five-year period.

Local authorities were to be collectively allocated 5 percent of the National Budget, which would be go towards funding localised developmental projects.

The projects would encompass development of health, transport, water and sanitation, public amenities, education and electricity infrastructure.

All 92 local authorities would receive a share of the devolution funds depending on their specific needs.

A financing model, bankrolled in part by the Intermediated Money Transaction Tax (IMMT), was to ensure that funding is always available.

What we have witnessed over the intervening period, has been development at levels that are unprecedented in this country’s long history.

We are witnessing an unrelenting unfurling of development stretching to all four corners of this teapot-shaped Republic.

To point out just a few examples, Harare and Bulawayo’s perennial water shortages, which had become an existential threat to good public health for millions of residents, will soon be a thing of the past.

Water provision projects that had been mothballed for decades such as development of Kunzvi Dam and Lake Gwayi-Shangani, which are now under development, are set to provide the appropriate elixir for the two cities’ water problems.

For the first time in decades, nearly all local authorities are being equipped with key operational equipment, including road graders, front-end loaders and garbage compactors.

Gone are the days when council revenue was only destined for either the pockets of council executives or to top-of-the range car dealerships.

This time around, funding is actually going where it is needed the most.

Throughout the country, water and sewer reticulation systems are being upgraded.

Clinics, schools, roads, tertiary institutions and bridges, are being built.

Key Government agencies such as the Civil Registry Department are being decentralised to communities.

Courts are also being decentralised to far-flung backwaters, helping bring justice to where the people are.

Crucially, public service providers, which were centred in the aforesaid urban centres, are being tactfully established on the doorsteps of previously marginalised communities.

Last week, we carried a story on development that is taking place in Zaka district, where schools, clinics and roads are being built, much to the delight of locals.

That story gave a brief, but searing snapshot of the development underway throughout the country, sadly away from the gaze of the media.

Recently, Harare and Chitungwiza procured garbage compactors amid much pomp and fanfare at their respective town houses.

To illustrate the efficacy of the devolution programme in these two jurisdictions, we witnessed all over social media opposition councillors tripping over one another for photo-ops with these vehicles.

One would shudder to think these were the very same councillors responsible for decay of these two urban centres.

Devolution has not delivered grand vanity projects.

No! All these are projects that speak directly to the immediate needs of the ordinary man on the street.

We have witnessed in just under four years, through Government agency, the delivery of development that opposition-led councils have failed to provide in two decades.

Indeed, no place and no one is being left behind.