State dithering on crafting devolution laws 

Source: State dithering on crafting devolution laws -Newsday Zimbabwe

GOVERNMENT is still working on legislation and policy guidelines on devolution years after its introduction to ensure transfer of powers and responsibilities from central government to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities.

Local Government and Public Works minister Winston Chitando revealed this when he made his virtual presentation during a devolution workshop held in Bulawayo yesterday.

He said government decided to introduce devolution as espoused in the Constitution, adding that authorities had underscored the need for the country to fully embrace it to facilitate rapid economic growth.

“Currently, we are in the process of implementing devolution as prescribed by the Constitution. Devolution will see the transfer of powers and responsibilities from the central government to provincial councils, metropolitan councils and local authorities,” he said.

“The powers and responsibilities to be devolved include powers to formulate budgets and implementing them effectively and on time in order to produce the requisite services.

“All the decision-making powers pertaining to the planning and implementation of provincial development projects and programmes will be vested in councils themselves.”

Chitando said communities would have participatory democracy, deriving benefits from the exploitation of resources in their areas.

“The constitutional provisions on devolution are yet to be fully implemented, subsidiary legislation and policy guidelines are still being crafted. In the same vein, citizens have high expectations on the prospects of devolution to improve transparency and accountability,” Chitando said.

He said devolution had been implemented since 2019, adding that government was committed on supporting areas such as water, sanitation and hygiene and the construction or rehabilitation of roads, schools and clinics, among other projects.

“It should be noted that this has created thousands of jobs for the youths and the government has so far injected billions of dollars into these programmes and projects to date.

“These infrastructure projects being implemented have tremendously improved the living standards of the majority of the people who mainly reside in the rural areas.

“During the year, the Thematic Working Group engaged development partners, namely, the United Nations Development Programme for technical and financial support,” Chitando further noted.

However, Speaker of National Assembly during the Government of National Unity Lovemore Moyo said the delay in implementing devolution was not a coincidence, but deliberate act by the ruling Zanu PF regime.

“It’s abundantly clear that the Zanu PF regime does not fully subscribe to a nationally devolved system of governance as espoused in the Constitution,” he stated. “In fact, it prefers a centralised system of governance, which allows monopoly and looting of State resources.

“Consequently, the government’s legislative agenda excludes the enactment of an Act of Parliament that will fully operationalise devolution.”

He said government preferred to continue manipulating devolution processes.

“Accordingly, people are extremely disappointed that the government continues to pay lip service to the implementation of devolution, and there’s no comprehensive framework in place since the adoption of the new Constitution in the year 2013,” he said.