Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
DEVOLUTION funds have transformed education, health and social amenities with a new clinic, class-room blocks and rehabilitated roads emerging in the six wards making up Gokwe Town Council as the Second Republic continues pushing development all corners of the country by channelling funds to local councils.
According to Gokwe Town Council officials and residents in the town, devolution has brought more opportunities to the local authority by boosting capacity to implement high impact projects.
Devolution is enshrined in the 2013 Constitution, but its implementation began in earnest with the coming in of the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa and the decision that local communities usually can set their own priorities more efficiently than a civil servant in Harare.
The programme has helped local authorities boost health service delivery, particularly in rural areas, where a majority of citizens travelled long distances to access health care.
Leaving no- one and no place behind has become synonymous with the leadership of President Mnangagwa, who has made the philosophy a buzz-phrase that has found resonance among the people in both rural and urban areas.
Devolution funds are assisting local authorities fulfil their obligation of ensuring improved access to social amenities across the country through development of key infrastructure.
For 2021, Government allocated Gokwe Town Council $86 million and this year, the local authority was allocated $208 million. The council has rolled out an all-year-round road-maintenance programme where drains and gullies are being repaired.
Gokwe town is built on sandy soils which are prone to formation of gullies that threatened infrastructure, but with the coming of the Second Republic, funding has been provided to construct culverts and storm drains to control runoff that was causing gullies.
Acting Gokwe Town Council secretary Mr Alexander Nyandoro speaking in an interview, commended the Government for the devolution funds which he said had brought about the much needed funding for people centred projects.
“Devolution funds have transformed the education, health and social amenities with a new clinic, class room blocks and rehabilitated roads emerging in the six wards making up the town. We are glad that the Second Republic continues supporting us by providing the necessary funding,” he said.
Mr Nyandoro said with the level of disbursements from the Government, Vision 2030 is now a certainty.
He said the local authority was focusing more on ensuring the implementation of people-centred projects while acquitting the funds in time so that funding doesn’t stop. Acquitting the funds means providing the evidence required that the money has been properly spent and used for what it was intended.
“Last year, the local authority was allocated $86 million and this year, $208 million by the Government under devolution. We are building a classroom block at Vision Kunashe Primary School in Nyaradza. We have pupils walking out of town to faraway schools. This is difficult for ECD children and other lower grades and this is why we are constructing new schools,” he said.
Mr Nyandoro said Vision Kunashe Primary was named to inspire GTC towards attaining Vision 2030 goals in line with the Government’s economic trajectory.
“The school is strategically located as it serves both Ward 2 and 3,” he said.
Mr Nyandoro said Gokwe Town Council was also sinking six solar powered boreholes and rehabilitating roads and drainage systems.
“All projects are funded with devolution funds received from the central Government,” said Mr Nyandoro.
Using the $208 million, the local authority was looking at coming up with a master plan for the town, construction of more classroom blocks and market sheds among other projects.
“We are looking at rehabilitation of 24 km of roads in the six wards in the town so that they are passable. Remember we have sandy soils and therefore the need for the road grading and gravelling with hard stones. There is also drain construction taking place,” he said.
On completed works, Mr Nyandoro said Gokwe Town Council was through with the construction of Nyaradza Primary School classroom block.
“This year we had the pleasure of commissioning Mapfungautsi Polyclinic. The clinic will serve more than 11 000 people including expecting mothers and this will decongest pressure on Gokwe Hospital and Cheziya Clinic as well as shortening distances travelled by patients,” said Mr Nyandoro.
Chief Njelele, whose subjects will benefit from the new master plan and the subsequent services they will receive, commended the Government for effective devolution.
“What the Government is doing is commendable in disbursing devolution funds to the local authorities because we also benefit from the projects that are being undertaken. It is my hope that the council continues to use every cent for the intended purpose so that more funding continues coming from the Government,” he said.
Chief Nemangwe whose subjects also get services at Gokwe town centre said Vision 2030 at this pace was achievable for the people of Gokwe.
“We are seeing roads being rehabilitated, clinics and schools being constructed by the local authority using the devolution funds and this is a welcome development for us as we get services at the centre. Gullies are a thing of the past you know and the roads are passable,” he said.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Larry Mavima said the devolution programme brought about by the Second Republic continued to post major successes across the province.
The Government remained resolute towards empowering local authorities through the provision of devolution funds.
“It is indeed a great honour and privilege to see devolution projects taking off and being completed. What we want is to see villagers, and residents in all rural and urban councils benefiting from devolution funds which are there to push programmes that change the livelihoods of the people,” he said.
“Accordingly, the advent of devolution funds has seen councils like Gokwe Town Council produce results which we are witnessing today.”
Minister Mavima commended Gokwe Town Council for embracing Vision 2030, which he said was transforming people’s lives daily, without leaving anyone behind.
The President implemented the devolution programme in his first year in office and since then, the programme has changed lives in many aspects.