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Implementing Devolution to Drive Social Protection for Older Persons - Zimbabwe Today
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Implementing Devolution to Drive Social Protection for Older Persons

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Mutare — Government has been urged to leverage on devolution provisions as drivers for local resource mobilisation to assist the elderly and vulnerable groups.

National Ageing Network of Zimbabwe (NANZ) says proper implementation of devolution has the potential to streamline local resources to drive social protection for vulnerable groups including women, children and older persons.

NANZ founding chairperson Absolom Masendeke says applying devolution principles will enhance social inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction strategies, as vulnerabilities are being compounded by climate change-induced natural disasters.

He said there is a nexus between robust development of rural economies and proper provision of social protection of elderly persons through increased revenue base.

Masendeke said if local communities are developed they can participate in mechanisms or strategies which mitigate against the negative impact of natural disasters and provide social protection for the elderly.

“Devolution should empower local institutions, for devolution to work we are talking about first things first ensuring stakeholders and interested parties are all involved in the planning process, once we have this participation we then meet the principles.

“There is a nexus between robust local economies and social protection for the vulnerable, when we consider devolution principles, in essence, they are key in enhancing social inclusion in addressing disasters in communities,” he said.

Strategic social protection recognizes diversity and differences in the impacts of disasters,

“We should have differential consideration in mapping out responses that can work and also recognizing the positive elements that also come from that diversity.

“Roping in localized planning and response, which can be achieved through devolution is one way to ensure that no one is left behind,” he said.

For communities rich in natural resources, devolution is a low hanging fruit to ensure they can benefit from proceeds of mining and promote sustainable development by driving upstream and downstream linkages.

The case of Penhalonga typifies yearnings of such mining communities which are pushing for tangible benefits including employment creation local community development if devolution is implemented.

Chairperson of the Penhalonga Residents Trust (PRIT) Weston Makoni bemoaned the slow operationalization of devolution preserves exploitative mining activities which do not benefit local communities.

Makoni, says rampant environmental degradation emanating from unregulated mining activities, ecological and social of cost of mining can be minimized if communities participate meaningfully.

“Government has already indicated its intentions to devolve powers to local councils, these will also go down to residents and communities so that they have the power to manage natural resources in the localities.

“Devolving powers from central government to metropolitan councils and local authorities for communities (residents) who are the key stakeholders to benefit from their natural resources.

“As communities, we have our own needs and priorities and economic activities in our midst should also benefit us so that we also ensure social protection for the vulnerable,” he said.

Penhalonga, a mining town northeast of Mutare, is reeling from the closure of Redwing Mine, as opaque arrangements around this concern have sparked an influx of artisanal mining fronted by political syndicates.

The local authority Mutasa RDC faces a mining quandary, it’s battling to regulate rampant artisanal mining which is threatening community livelihoods, the pristine local environment and a wildlife sanctuary-Chimanimani Game Park.

Artisanal gold mining is getting out of hand. Hordes of poverty-stricken locals- representative of high unemployment levels in Zimbabwe’s informal economy- seeking livelihoods and escape hyperinflation, have invaded the district.

Centre for Research and Development, a non-governmental organization recently convened a local stakeholder workshop to promote the implementation of devolution policy assessing opportunities and challenges at local authority level.

James Mupfumi, CRD director, says the government is erring in delaying the implementation of devolution as it is an opportunity to ensure local communities meaningfully participate in development.

“We are conducting a community audit on the issue of devolution, tracking what benefits are accruing if any, to the local authority and communities from mining activities which are taking place.

“Devolution is a constitutional provision that should be implemented sooner rather than later to ensure communities can also benefit meaningfully from local resources.

“Local authorities can also generate revenue if they are empowered through devolution,” he said.

“It’s not sustainable that after mining activities, local authorities are not getting royalties due to them and when the devolution funds come through they are late and devalued as it is in local currency.”

DevolutionNational Ageing Network of Zimbabwe (NANZ)

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