Technocrats to spearhead devolution

Source: Technocrats to spearhead devolution | The Herald

Technocrats to spearhead devolution
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba (left) makes a contribution at an appraisal meeting for Provincial Affairs and Devolution ministers on the National Development Strategy in Harare yesterday

Herald Reporter

Government is appointing technocrats to spearhead the devolution agenda under the five-year National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), which will replace the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) at the end of the year.

The appointment of the experts to give technical guidance to Ministers of Provincial Affairs and Provincial Development Coordinators is part of efforts to attain an Upper Middle Income economy by 2030.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is in the process of identifying and deploying director level personnel to attend to provincial governance issues under NDS1 which will run from 2021 to 2025.

They will assist Provincial ministers in effective and efficient allocation and utilisation of resources provided by Government in support of devolution.

In every province, there will be directors for economic development, governance, finance, administration and human resources.

For the Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan Provinces, there will be two additional directors because of the peculiarity of urban environments.

The directors will be responsible for Infrastructure Planning and Development and Spatial Planning and Environmental Management.

This plan was outlined to all the Provincial Affairs Ministers at a meeting in Harare yesterday.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda told the Ministers that the meeting was aimed at obtaining input from provinces as the country moved towards the attainment of the National Vision.

“Your inputs will also ensure the devolution agenda, whose implementation you superintend is mainstreamed into the blueprint.

“It is against this backdrop that the Government has set out to develop a five-year medium term strategy, the National Development Strategy (NDS1): 2021-2025 as a key step towards the realisation of Vision 2030,” said Dr Sibanda.

To ensure Government produced tangible results, the crafting of the NDS1 was underpinned by the Integrated Results Based Management system.

This entailed the designing of a national development results-based framework outlining the national priorities, national outcomes, key result areas and key performance indicators, marking a departure from previous blueprints.

“We have to bear in mind that the transfer of power to the lower tier of Government through the devolution process is to enable them to spearhead economic and social development in their respective areas of jurisdiction in line with their comparative advantages.

“Local authorities, provinces and districts should become economic hubs and ease of doing business centres which attract investment, and in the process, be easily transformed into Special Economic Zones. Value addition and beneficiation of resources should be explored in these lower tiers of Government and then aggregated into the national Gross Domestic Product.”

Some submissions made by the provinces fell far short of the approach laid down for the development planning process.

“Submissions from provinces should therefore take cognisance of the vast endowments present in each of your provinces. A lot of investment opportunities exist in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, infrastructure and energy amongst many more.

“These investment opportunities have to be properly identified and packed so as to attract both local and external investors.”

The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) had been roped in to assist in identifying projects in provinces for inclusion in the NDS1.

PSC chair Dr Vincent Hungwe outlined the roles of the incoming technocrats.

“The post of Provincial Development Coordinator was created to give traction to the President’s policy pronouncement on how devolution would be rolled out in Zimbabwe.

“The PDCs are coming in full support of inclusive economic growth and empowerment, as such their work will entail the coordination of socio-economic advancement under the leadership of the Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution.

“It is clear from the President’s pronouncements that the thrust of our devolution entails a prudent balancing of all imperatives from political, governance and administrative issues to the attainment of the goals of Vision 2030 in terms of continuous economic improvement, spurred by a leap frogging approach that emphasises early outcomes for the citizenry.

He urged Ministers to adopt an aggressive programme of identifying economic opportunities based on factor endowments in the provinces to which the PDCs were deployed.

“In the new dispensation, it is all about detail. It is expected that the focus on provincial factor endowments will generate at the initial stage, an active appetite for domestic investment.”

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the deployment of resources should follow the NDS1 and his Ministry was anxiously waiting for its formal launch hoping to use it for Budget consultations. 

“The NDS and the BSP will be used as consultation documents for the Budget for 2021 with all stakeholders around the country. As Ministers of State, we expect you to assist us in identifying those game changing projects. We need private sector projects not just public sector projects.”

Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavhima asked how they would fit into the new structure and Dr Hungwe clarified that they remained the principal political drivers of the process.

Manicaland Minister of Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba asked about the resourcing of the operations and commended the new structure saying it would be effective.

In response, Prof Ncube said: “The structure is meant to empower the State Ministers further. Previously, we used a model of deploying funds through the local government. We did not have the legislative instrument to deploy funds directly to the provincial ministry.”

Secretary for Local Government and Public Works Mr Zvinechimwe Churu said the role of the incoming Provincial Development Coordinators was achieving Government objectives even when they were supposed to work with opposition controlled councils.

Chief executive of Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) Mr Douglas Munatsi gave practical industry examples of how the provinces could contribute to national development.

Part of ZIDA’s mandate was to incorporate the private sector in the development connection, through the interpretation of the nexus between the private sector and the public sector, from an investment point of view to a structural point of view.