Devolution is not just good economics but is also clearly directed by the Constitution.
Business Weekly, a news publication under media group Zimpapers, will be rolling out provincial devolution roadshows starting with Midlands today to help unpack Government’s decentralisation concept, close information gaps and facilitate stakeholder participation and contribute towards effective implementation of the national programme.
Devolution refers to the cascading of powers to lower levels of governance by the central Government and in Zimbabwe, a key feature of this is the creation of provincial councils that will become the regional authorities in the running of the country’s affairs.
The concept is important because it ensures that decisions are made closer to the local people, communities and businesses they affect.
President Mnangagwa has already declared that his administration under the Second Republic will prioritise the implementation of devolution with millions of dollars earmarked for the programme.
The President chairs the Cabinet Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs and that on Devolution and Economic Development of Provinces and Local Authorities.
The devolution concept, which has been a long-standing governance issue, was crystalised in the national Constitution of 2013.
Devolution is in line with the harmonisation of laws with the Constitution—and the country is doing well in fulfilling the letter and spirit of the national charter. It is useful to place the concept into a constitutional perspective.
According to the national charter, devolution is in line with the principles of good governance, which bind the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level with devolution.
The preamble to the section dealing with devolution makes it clear that the aim is the preservation of national unity and the prevention of all forms of disunity and secessionism; the democratic participation in Government by all citizens and communities of Zimbabwe; and the equitable allocation of national resources and the participation of local communities in the determination of development priorities.
The objectives of the devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities are, inter alia, to give powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them; to promote democratic, effective, transparent, accountable and coherent Government in Zimbabwe as a whole; to preserve and foster the peace, national unity and indivisibility of Zimbabwe.
Further, devolution seeks to recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development; to ensure the equitable sharing of local and national resources; and, lastly, to transfer responsibilities and resources from the national Government in order to establish a sound financial base for each provincial and metropolitan council and local authority.
The roadshows will be held in all the country’s 10 provinces where stakeholders including the Government, private sector, churches, academia, and civil society will be invited into dialogue on critical matters pertaining the implementation of devolution.
The Government has since allocated $310 million to facilitate the devolution of power to provincial councils and some disbursements have been made to the various provinces.
The themes of roadshows will be centred around major economic activities or resource endowments in specific provinces. Business Weekly Editor Herbert Zharare believes there is fundamental void on information on devolution and as such participation of respective provinces and stakeholder is critical.
“As a newspaper, we feel we should be part of communities that we operate in. The era of just writing on who said what and where is coming to an end. We want business papers to partner communities and help influence cause of national development. This is just the beginning. We are going to move to all provinces, creating this platform for interaction among key players in economic development that in among others Government, the private sector and civil society including churches,” he said.
In the same vein, there is still information gap on how devolution will be implemented, he said.
The event is expected to be graced by Government and provincial ministers, business and church leaders, officials from local authorities among other stakeholders.