Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Govt insincerity on devolution appalling, says NGO Forum

Wilbert Mandinde

Upenyu
Chaota

MASVINGO— Section 264 of the Zimbabwean constitution provides
for devolution of power from the central government to provinces but the
President Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration has not passed the law to
operationalise the process yet the ministry of finance has already disbursed
millions in devolution funds, a move which experts say shows the ‘new
dispensation’s’ lack of sincerity to devolve power.
Speaking at the Provincial and Metropolitan Council
Shadow Bill consultative meeting last week, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
senior projects lawyer Wilbert Mandinde said the government should work on the
devolution law first before they start disbursing funds.
“When we are looking at devolution in terms of
Zimbabwe you take it from the context of the Constitution and our starting
point is Section 264 which speaks of devolution of governmental powers and
responsibilities.
“So it deals with both devolution of governmental
powers as well as responsibilities initially of central government. The section
is clear to say that power should be devolved from national to either provincial
or metropolitan council as well as further down to the local authority, which
is the whole idea,” said Mandinde.
Mandinde said the disbursement of devolution funds
without the law means that the money may be used on other things opposite to
the intended purpose.
“In terms of Section 265 (3), it requires an act of
parliament to provide appropriate mechanisms and procedures to facilitate
coordination from central government, provincial, metropolitan and local
councils. So there is need for a law as a starting point but here we see that
the government has already started giving people money for devolution. The law
is supposed to spell out how the money is supposed to be used so by giving out
money without the law I do not know what the government is trying to do.
“The law is not there at the moment. The aspirations
of both the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) and NGO Forum is then to say let us
discuss a model law so that when money is disbursed people are able to handle
the money as per the law.
“Devolution money should be used in a manner that
benefits the community but the issue is on who determines what is good for the
community. We have a situation here in Masvingo City where the council wants to
use devolution money to drill boreholes to alleviate the water crisis but is
that what the community agreed on because the city council is obliged to
provide water even when the devolution money was not there. I see no link
really to say that the money being given to the local authorities is for
devolution when it is being used for service delivery,” said Mandinde.
He said the government should treat devolution
different from decentralisation as the two are not the same.
“Devolution recognises the right of communities to
manage their own affairs to further their development. It is important to note
that devolution is not decentralisation. Decentralisation is a simple issue in
which you simply say you can have something similar to national government
within provincial or local structures.
“Devolution then goes to the power the people have
within each and every area and are able to make decisions on their own based on
the resources they have.
“I do not understand why the government is taking long
to come up with the devolution law but the conclusion any one person can make
is that the government is not being very sincere.  The government realises the importance of the
particular constitution provision.
“The government further realises that it is obliged to
implement and I think is one of the things that they campaigned with saying they
will devolve power,” said Mandinde.
Sources within Zanu PF said their party never wanted
devolution as it would amount to loss of political capital.
“People should know that the constitution is a
negotiated document between MDC and Zanu PF. This section on devolution is
purely MDC and Zanu PF does not want to devolve power. Devolving power means
losing it and we will not devolve ourselves out of power.
“At some point Mwonzora (Douglas) offered to come up
with the devolution law but we shot it down,” said a Zanu PF source.
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TellZim News is the leading news organization in the Southern region. It provides candid, balanced and timely news from the communities. Keeping it real. Committed to tell Zimbabwe.

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