The Midlands Province is working on establishing its net worth, as devolution implementation gathers momentum.
This comes as provincial councils and local authorities have been directed to craft development programmes that inform their expenditures to be funded through Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers.
In an interview on Tuesday, after the hosting on Midlands Devolution Conference last Friday by Business Weekly, Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavima said the province, with its vast mineral deposits, had the capacity to be among the top in contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in line with President Mnangagwa’s devolution thrust.
He said the first port of call was to establish the number of civil servants in the province and how much Government was channelling into the province towards the salaries of civil service.
“When we know the number of civil servants in the province and the money that Government channels towards their salaries every month, we will be able to determine our disposable income as a province,” Minister Mavima.
“We also intend to collate the number of companies that we have in the province what they channel towards their employees and simple economics will help us know our possible disposable income as a province.
“These figures should then be made public so that investors know the potential that the province has in terms of its disposable income,” he said.
Minister Mavima urged small to medium enterprises to work on regularising their business for devolution to work.
“This must be an all-inclusive effort,” he said. “The world over, SMEs play an important role in driving the economy hence our plea for SMEs to also take part in devolution, so they must regularise and not evade paying taxes.”
Section 301 of the Constitution provides for Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers from central to provincial and local tiers of Government to support devolution.
In a speech read on his behalf during a half-day devolution conference in Gweru last Friday, Mr Andrew Bvumbe, a senior director in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, said the development plans should be guided by National Planning Document of which the current one is the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (October 2018 – December 2020).
“In order to ensure development of these planning documents, Office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs will be required to co-ordinate the activity,” said Mr Bvumbe.
In recognition of the importance of devolution, the Government has made the implementation of the concept a key strategy of the national development agenda.
The devolution and decentralisation programme features prominently in the socio-economic development roadmap, Vision 2030, the TSP and the 2019 National Budget.
It is anchored on the overriding objective of promoting sustainable, representative, accountable and inclusive governance. It recognises the right of communities to manage their economic affairs and further their own development as well as encouraging the equitable sharing of local and national resources. The model of devolution will facilitate investment in various districts at growth points. In crafting the developments plans, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, said provinces should focus on quick wins export projects including those requiring low capital and less power to achieve competitiveness.
“The proposed paradigm shift in the architecture of our national governance structures should result in increased and competitive exploitation of local resources,” said Minister Moyo.
Disaggregation of the economy
Implementation of devolution emphasise regional economic development. This, therefore, entails the development and tracking economic activities at district and provincial levels; hence the need for developing and monitoring of GDP statistics at district and provincial levels.
Provinces will be required to co-ordinate and monitor the development of such statistics in the respective jurisdictions with technical assistance of the relevant Government agencies.
The national GDP will be disaggregated to the provincial level for competitiveness purpose. The provincial management of the economy entails working closely with the private sector to capture data and understanding their requirements.
President Mnangagwa has since declared that his administration would prioritise the implementation of devolution.
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 crystallised in the Constitution of 2013.
Business Weekly road-shows will be held in the country’s 10 provinces where various stakeholders including the Government, private sector, churches, academia, and civil society will dialogue on critical matters pertaining the implementation.
Government has since allocated $310 million to facilitate the devolution of power to provincial councils and some disbursements have been made to the provinces. The theme of road-shows will be centred on major economic activities or resource endowments in specific provinces.