… social cohesion key in devolution success
By Perseverance Javangwe
Gokwe residents have noted with concern the politicisation of devolution projects as a key issue that has resulted in the lockdown of important developments in their areas, this publication can reveal.
Devolution is a necessary vehicle for doing away with the over-centralised system of government, for deepening democracy, promoting locally driven development, improving the delivery of public services and promoting national integration and peace while recognising diversity. But however, due to its politicisation by other people in Gokwe South residents are no longer partaking in devolution projects.
“Chinoitika ndechekuti vanhu vanopinda mumaprojects aya mushure mekunge vatanga vawona kuti ndiyani arikufambisa nyaya dzacho. Semuenzaniso kana project ikatanga nacouncillor weZanu vamwe vemamwe mapato vachati zvinhu zveZanu hazvinei nesu, saka muchizowona pasingaiti development (What happens is that people support these initiatives depending on who is initiating them. If it is done by a Zanu-PF councillor or legislature then those belonging to other parties other than Zanu-PF will refuse to partake thereby killing development),” said a resident from Gawa.
The Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 provides the framework for devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities in Section 264 with tiers of government outlined in Section 5 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Sub-section 1 provides for devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities. Section 301(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe further provides that a budget of at least 5% of the national revenues raised in any financial yearshould be allocated to the provinces and local authorities as their share in that fiscal year.
The funds have already been allocated and the central government has specified that those funds should be used for capital development. Zimbabwe is implemented economic devolution where provinces and districts will act as economic hubs competing with each other to attract investment and transform themselves into economic zones with own gross domestic product (GDP) to ensure sustainable and equitable development of the country. These devolved tiers have some fiscal responsibilities which include deciding their own budgets and setting their own development priorities.
Speaking during a citizen-duty bearer engagement meeting held by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) in Gokwe with the project running under the title; Strengthening the role of the church in promoting Social Cohesion and civic participation within Devolution processes, Elvis Siziba the facilitator for ZHOCD highlighted the importance of participating in devolution processes and also the importance of social cohesion from a biblical standpoint.
“We are basing devolution from the constitution. This is now the framework of the government that we are supposed to work with. As churches we want to try and promote the devolution processes and decentralisation process. Because of devolution the government now wants to here from us on the issues affecting us in the community. This means that we are all supposed to participate in decision making from local communities including persons with disabilities, woman, youths we all have to participate. There should be social cohesion among all of us so that we can work well. Devolution is the basis of democracy, devolution is the basis for unity, devolution is the basis for good governance. In Genesis 1:26 we were given the example of governance and ordered to devolve power.
“We are not saying that when we talk of devolution then as local authorities we we say we no longer listen to the national governance, no. We are still answerable to the national government. But we are also telling them issues that affect us as people so that they take into consideration our views. But it doesn’t mean that our Ministers, for example will accept everything we say, rather there should be consensus between us and the ministers we tell them our issues and they also reveal the logistical issues affecting the government. We should tolerate each others views and have social cohesion at local, provincial and national level we should all unite,” said Siziba
Devolution has been described as the single most comprehensive door to a governance system of inclusion, participation and employment. It does not only congest power, it is more citizen centred, from a democractic perspective it is exact the antithesis of the One Centre of Power notion. Hence there is need to ensure that everybody participates in the devolution discourses according to Siziba.
“As leaders at local level we are supposed to get into the community so that we structure how we want to work, for example going to Gawa area and make sure we listen to views of people under us. To everyone else let us give the leaders our views so that we all work together for the devolution process. As ZHOCD let us be the source of wisdom in terms of the devolution process because it help all of us,” he said.
Devolution was adopted as a key component of the new constitution of Zimbabwe and is recognised as one of the founding values and principles to the constitution. Chapter 14 of the constitution provides for provincial and local governments. It has a preamble which states that: whereas it is desirable to ensure: a) the preservation of national unity in Zimbabwe and the prevention of all forms of disunity and secessionism; b) the democratic participation in government by all citizens and communities of Zimbabwe and c) the equitable allocation of national resources and the participation of local communities in the determination of development of power and responsibilities to lower tiers of government in Zimbabwe.
Growth points will develop into smaller towns to decongest big cities. Regional disparities in development should be catered for to address issues of marginalisation. Value addition and beneficiation of resources will be explored in each district as opposed to exporting them in their primary form. Given that agriculture is the backbone of the economy, there are opportunities for construction of dams and irrigation infrastructure to enhance productivity in the sector. The idea behind implementation of devolution in Zimbabwe is to deepen democracy and empower citizens to make locally based development choices to improve the delivery of public services given that the centralised system of government has some inefficiencies and decision making process may be slow.
Philemon Handinahama Hwami who is the Project Officer-Midlands for ZHOCD added that it is important for everyone in the community to be involved in the devolution process.
“Everyone should participate in the devolution process. Let us not look down upon ourselves in terms of the devolution discourse, we all have a role to play. It is everyone’s responsibility to take part in the devolution process,” he said.
During its launch last year President Emerson Mnangagwa stated that devolution was adopted as a key component of the new 2013 Constitution. He postulated that devolution ensures the preservation of national unity in Zimbabwe, prevention of all forms of disunity and secessionism and the democratic participation in Government by Zimbabweans.