Legislative framework for devolution

Source: Legislative framework for devolution | The Sunday Mail June 2, 2019

Legislative framework for devolution
Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi

Debra Matabvu

LEGISLATIVE amendments to pave way for the devolution model are now almost complete amid indications that the Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Bill could be gazetted soon.

Legal experts from the Attorney General’s office and the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing are now fine-tuning certain clauses in the Bill before its principles are tabled in Cabinet.

The legal experts are understood to have also incorporated views from countrywide public consultations and devolution workshops held in recent months.

Provincial and metropolitan councils are provided in Section 268 (Chapter 14) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, with legislators being part of the bodies.

However, there have been legal submissions that legislators — Senators and National Assembly members — cannot be on provincial and metropolitan councils as this would hamper the oversight role of Parliament.

The exclusion of Senators and National Assembly representatives will also mean a leaner and efficient structure whose budgets are expended more on gainful economic activity than remuneration.

Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, said the Bill would soon be taken to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation before Cabinet, for approval.

“The Bill is with the Attorney General. I think they are finalising it and once they are done, within the next few weeks, we then take it to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation; then after, to Cabinet before being gazetted,” he said.

The legislative refinements will also deal with issues of proportional representation of councillors and the chairpersons in metropolitan councils.

According to the Constitution, a metropolitan council will include mayors of the largest and second cities in the provinces together with 10 councillors selected under proportional representation.

However, there is no proportional representation of councillors in metropolitans with Bulawayo also not having a second city.

Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Mr George Magosvongwe said the drafting of the amended Bill had reached the final stages.

“We have concluded the consultations with the public and stakeholders, including experts, whose submissions will form part of the final draft,” he said.

“Once the draft is finalised it will be taken to Cabinet Committee and Cabinet for approval.”

Government has already set aside $310 million for the operationalisation of provincial councils.

Under the model, provincial councils will be allowed to hire their own personnel without interference from the central Government.