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Building Zim through devolution

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THE Second Republic has committed itself to implementing the devolution agenda as a vital cog in working towards the attainment of Vision 2030. 

In the 2021 Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated ZWL$19,5 billion for devolution.

So far, it has distributed ZWL$2,2 billion.

The bulk of the funds given out so far have been used for health, water, sanitation and social amenities projects.

Of the billions allocated for the year 2021, nearly ZWL$3 billion has been set aside to support local authorities across the country to implement devolution projects in their communities this year.

According to Government, the allocation of funds among the provincial, metropolitan and local levels of Government was premised on the provincial population size, the poverty prevalence and the infrastructure gap.

Harare City Council has been allocated ZWL$1,1 billion, which will be directed towards 12 projects, including upgrading and rehabilitation of the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant, the Crowborough Wastewater Treatment Plant and improvement of landfill sites in the capital.

The province also received 

ZWL$70 million from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) for the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).

Manicaland local authorities received ZWL$200 million to renovate Sakubva Stadium, upgrading Dangamvura water pipeline and rehabilitating Mutare Infectious Diseases Hospital. 

Chimanimani, Chipinge and Buhera used their funds to construct health facilities.

In Bulawayo, the ZWL$76,9 million vote was used to build schools such as Vulindlela Primary School in Cowdray Park, rehabilitation of Fernhill Pump Station, Inyankuni Pump Station, Aiseleby Treatment Plants and Matshobana Sewer Outfall Rehabilitation, among other projects.

In Midlands, of the ZWL$100 million received, Kwekwe converted Garandichauya Beerhall into a 26-bed Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) while the rest went to rehabilitation of roads and upgrading of housing units in the province.

Matabeleland South local authorities received ZWL$315 million which went to the construction of Umlugulu Clinic in Matopo, Thuli-Manyange Dam and Gwanda-Maphisa Road, among other initiatives.

ZWL$256 million allocated to Masvingo local authorities will be used to cover 2,8km of the sewer line which extends from Rujeko Pump Station to Chimusana Bridge.

In Gutu, out of the 22 projects being implemented under devolution, the Gutu Rural District Council said seven of the projects are now 100 percent complete, including schools, clinics and roads. 

Other projects under construction include nine clinics and their staff houses, three blocks of classrooms at different schools, boreholes, Gwira Secondary School staff house and the vegetable market in Mupandawana Town.

In Mashonaland Central, councils are making full use of the facility as they transformed a disused farm-house into Gandawasvika Clinic in Makonde as well as constructed Kapembere, Nyamaridza and Utete clinics in Muzarabani and Nyatsato clinic in Rushinga.

Matabeleland North has not been left out. 

Actually, it received the bigger chunk of ZWL$1,5 billion that will be distributed across local authorities.

The devolution funds are being used in constructing roads, building schools, health delivery systems, as well as attending to water and sewer reticulation issues, health delivery services in Victoria Falls, Hwange, Lupane, Umguza, Nkayi, Tsholotsho, Binga and Kusile.

Despite these massive developments in all the country’s 10 provinces, thanks to the devolution agenda, many still ask what devolution is all about.

What is devolution?

Adopted in 2013 through the new Constitution, devolution refers to the transfer of legislative, executive, administrative and financial decision-making authority by Central Government to Provincial and Metropolitan Councils, as well as local governments that have clear and legally recognised jurisdictions within which they provide public services to constituents to whom they are accountable.

The primary aim of devolution is to transfer fiscal, political, administrative as well as market powers and responsibilities from the central to the quasi-autonomous lower levels of Government. 

This would effectively ensure there is democratic participation, localised development and equity in the distribution of the perennially scarce Government resources. 

Section 301 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that not less than five percent of the national revenues must be allocated to the provincial, metropolitan and local tiers of Government. 

Albeit the provision, these devolved institutions did not get the requisite five percent between 2013 and 2018. 

However, the advent of the Second Republic saw the renewed push for devolution as a key asset for the resuscitation of the country’s economy. 

The 2019 National Budget committed to providing US$310 million for devolution.

The amount was to be multiplied in the 2020 National Budget, getting a boost of ZWL$1 billion.

In 2021, Treasury further committed a major boost of ZWL$19,5 billion to devolution.

These financial resources would be necessary for the achievement of growth and development that is equitable and sustainable for all the citizens in Zimbabwe. 

In addition, the country’s 10 provinces will be transformed into specialised economic entities. Manicaland will be the diamond value addition and beneficiation hub; Harare will be the ICT nerve centre; Bulawayo will be the industrial powerhouse; while Midlands will be home to iron and steel value chain beneficiation centre. 

Under Zimbabwe’s devolution framework, the provincial and metropolitan councils are required to draft and adopt the Regional Investment and Development Master Plans (RIDMP) which act as policy blueprints for their respective jurisdictions.

The plans comprise the following; resource endowment of a given region, generic environmental impact assessment plan, comprehensive supportive utilities plan, investment opportunities and beneficiation plan as well as local empowerment and participation plan. 

This strategy is aimed at facilitating the ease of doing business and attracting domestic and foreign direct investment within the various regions. 

In addition, the newly established Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency will be decentralised to provincial level to spearhead the investment processes in the various regions. 

Under the devolution agenda, the Civil Service Commission is mandated to facilitate the transfer of functions and the establishment of the requisite systems, to ensure the gains of devolution are realised and safeguarded. 

Over and above, a Devolution Monitoring Committee was established to oversee the use of funds disbursed equitably towards devolution.

Is devolution working in Africa?

In Africa, it is generally believed that devolution is the panacea to the incessant infrastructure backlogs, poor service delivery, inequalities, high rates of unemployment at the grassroots and the high household poverty rates.

The general belief is that the provincial and local tiers of Government are critical in mitigating the effects of the aforementioned challenges that have affected the generality of citizens. 

Devolution thus entails the reconstruction of communities and the environment while being the bedrock of a democratic, integrated, prosperous and unified nation-state.

Other African countries that have embraced devolution of power include Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa.

Swaziland has its own brand of devolution under its Tinkundla system of governance in the country’s five regions. 

In Kenya, the Kenyan administration managed to devolve powers and functions to 47 county governments. 

These quasi-autonomous entities were accorded powers and functions to make laws, raise revenue, manage and co-ordinate administrative functions of the county and any other functions as conferred to the county.

In Kenya, there has been an improvement in local service delivery as well as infrastructure development. 

There is more financial investment and employment, better roads, health and Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities while people are now closer to democratic processes that directly affect their lives. 

In addition, citizens are now participating in the crafting of budgets and development policies that are peculiar to their needs as a community. 

The devolution process has also managed to strengthen the relationships between Kenya and international financial institutions, such as the World Bank. 

These institutions have been pivotal in providing financial and technical assistance to the Government of Kenya.

But back to Zimbabwe: The country continues to register massive development through numerous projects being spearheaded by the Second Republic, ably led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Devolution is, therefore, fast-becoming a game-changer as the country moves towards Vision 2030 that seeks to transform Zimbabwe into an upper-middle income economy.

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