Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government on Tuesday held an inaugural policy meeting on decentralisation and devolution as President Mnangagwa’s administration walks the talk on devolving power to provincial levels in line with the Constitution. Section (2) of the Constitution obliges central government to cede more powers to provincial councils for them to set local development priorities.
The previous administration led by Mr Robert Mugabe failed to implement the policy, which was one of the issues raised by opposition parties under the Constitution adopted in 2013.
President Mnangagwa last week revealed during campaign rallies in Gwanda and Bulawayo that Government was working on devolving power to provincial levels.
He said the policy would become a reality soon after next month’s harmonised elections.
Whilst opposition parties took the cynical view that this was a political gimmick, Government is already working to actualise the constitutional provision.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services secretary Mr George Charamba yesterday said Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda had convened an inaugural policy meeting on decentralisation and devolution.
Mr Charamba attended the meeting together with Dr Sibanda’s deputies Mr Justin Mupamhanga and Dr Ray Ndhlukula, Dr Judith Kateera, Finance and Economic Development secretary Mr Willard Manungo and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing secretary Mr George Magosvongwe.
“The meeting, first of all, sought to understand the import of the pronouncement of the President and to take an audit of Government structures as they exist and has operated both at central government level as well as provincial and district level with a view to gauging amenability to the new policy,” he said.
“The meeting also looked at the budgetary model for taking forward that policy, which is coming from the Constitution and which policy must now encompass the whole country.”
He said a small committee was set up to produce a paper to be tabled early next week for consideration by the same team.
“Equally, that small team was told to do the draft, mindful of Vision 2030 which is being worked on presently and by which Zimbabwe is expected to be a higher middle (income) economy by the same date,” said Mr Charamba.
“In terms of the issues, there is the issue of decentralisation of administrative responsibilities and a clear proposal on what powers remain with central government and what powers must devolve to provincial councils, which will be the new authorities under the new policy. Expectations are that by the time elections are over the national vision and policy on decentralisation will be presented to the new Government as a blueprint for the next five years.”
Under a devolved state, each province will have its own economic development plan underpinned by resources found in that province.
Economic plans will be crafted by provincial councils, led by provincial ministers, whose role should also be development-oriented.
In his address last week, President Mnangagwa said: “We are now saying politics, yes, but it should come after economics. For us to do that, we must now obey our Constitution. In our Constitution, there is a provision which provides for decentralisation of central Government. That we have done. Central Government is decentralised.
“You find the Ministry of (Primary and Secondary) Education is also at provincial, district and ward level. That is decentralisation of authority. There is another decentralisation of power that we have not yet implemented called devolution, which is separate from decentralisation.
“Devolution will require the surrendering of some amount of power to the provinces under provincial councils in terms of our Constitution, to give a province authority to manage the economy of that province and then the Provincial Minister’s role will now change. It will become an economic role.”