By Fidelis Manyange
“Section 264 of the constitution demands that power be devolved to the people as a means to ensure political and economic empowerment of communities.”
Of all statements that I have read in recent years, this one has particularly rekindled the flame in me.
Section 264 has since become my area of devotion as it lays foundation for a mission that I believe so much in.
The people, who live in the rural side of Zimbabwe have a special place in my heart. I was born and bred in a Murehwa District rural set- up; and so, I have always sought to play some role in uplifting the people that I love so much.
Rural communities have lagged behind in terms of meaningful development, especially if the area has no torch bearers, who advocate empowerment of their respective societies.
It is therefore imperative that this time around, rural communities must not be left out in any programme building up to the vision 2030 agenda.
As a people we must now be able to stand together on matters that bind us. We must work together on matters of national interest.
Vision 2030 must not be seen with political lenses; it is a national agenda, which must not be viewed as a political party project. We must therefore learn to contribute in our small ways in our different corners to help the success of the noble vision.
There’s, however, need to expound on four key words as loudly enshrined in the above devolution statement: people, power, politics and economy.
People make the communities, which are; the villages, the districts, the provinces and ultimately, the nation Zimbabwe.
Power should refer to people being able to contribute meaningfully to all aspects of governance matters. Power should refer to the ability of people to determine their destiny and be able to hold accountable those whom they give mandates to lead.
Politics should mean the right of all people to be able to hold public office by way of free and fair election. Political empowerment should mean the dynamics of promoting the reign of freedoms of association and assembly at village level going up.
Economic empowerment of communities as in the context of devolution must mean that the people must directly benefit from the natural resources that are found in their respective areas.
In all this, however, devolution must never be a vehicle for dividing the people of a nation. As we seek to roll out our roadmap for a devolved state, it must be made clear on what model we intend to embrace: are we heading towards establishment of a semi federal system, whereby provincial leaders will be directly elected by the people, or a system whereby a state president has to continue appointing ceremonial governors on top of the provincial leadership. We must always seek to curtail discord at every level in all our systems of governance.
The constitution states that a provincial council Chairman will be elected by a provincial council, and the candidates must come from a party that gets most votes in a particular province.
In light of this arrangement, my ideal concept for a successful devolution of Zimbabwe would be that of a central government whose cabinet must include the elected provincial leaders as opposed to a system of handpicking provincial ministers.
This idealistic concept will foster in genuine unity among Zimbabweans, and the central government will thus be more transparent and accountable in carrying out its duties.
The objective of my write up here is basically on the issue of empowerment of communities.
If people possess the power, they should be able to choose their leadership based on merit as opposed to a system of imposing leaders on the people. By being able to freely choose their leaders, the people will be able to have developmental projects in their own hands.
Natural resources will be managed in a way so as to build schools, hospitals, roads, boreholes, dams and all infrastructure that constitute a developed community. There won’t be need anymore to travel to the one city for important documents such as passports, birth certificates and national identity cards.
I am hereby proposing that each district be able to come up with draft proposals outlining development strategies for their respective communities.
Consultations should be done with all citizens in order to capture data on what each village requires and what needs to be done to empower the people economically.
I am therefore particularly calling upon fellow citizens, who have migrated to cities and to the diaspora to support and contribute to the development of communities that raised them. In that spirit, we’ll all make our Zimbabwe better.
The system of devolution will avert marginalisation of other communities as is the order today. There’s therefore need to expedite the processes from the grassroots in order to avoid unnecessary delays by politicians, who usually have their own bone to chew.
I believe that once power is given to the people, such ills as corruption will easily be manageable. Idolising political leaders has been one biggest source of power which makes leaders act weirdly.
An economically empowered people will have the muscle to tackle errant behaviours of their leaders, hence my call to expedite finalisation of the devolution agenda.
The grassroots must take this matter in their hands if they wish to see progress; some of our politicians will always speak without acting on the real subject at hand.