Felex Share Senior Reporter
CABINET yesterday approved principles of the Provincial Councils and Administration (Amendment) Bill which spells out the mechanisms of decentralisation and devolution. President Mnangagwa’s administration is working on devolving power to provincial councils in line with the Constitution.
Section (2) of the Constitution obliges central government to cede more powers to provincial councils for them to set local development priorities.
In her weekly Cabinet meeting updates, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Government was walking the talk on devolution.
“Cabinet approved the principles of the Provincial Councils and Administration (Amendment) Bill which was presented by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing (July Moyo),” she said.
“The amendments have been prompted by the need to align the current Provincial Councils and Administration Act [Chapter 29:11] with the provisions of the New Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 which advocate for the devolution of power to provincial and metropolitan councils.”
Implementation of devolution enjoins central Government to release funds for provincial budgets to ensure that areas lagging behind in terms of development are prioritised.
Minister Moyo said provinces were ready for devolution.
“The process of Constitution-making which culminated in Amendment Number 20 was widely canvassed, this question of devolution in particular,” he said.
“We had elections and we have councillors, mayors, chairpersons of rural district councils who are elected and are all members of that (provincial) council. In addition, for the rural ones, we have 10 who were elected on a proportional representation system.”
He went on: “I have just finished a round where we have inducted all the 1 958 local authorities but we included all the 10 from the eight rural provinces. They were part and parcel of the training that took place so that we could tell them that even before we enact this piece of legislation, the provisions of the constitution are sufficient for them to start preparing about what they want to do. The councillors are not alone, we have a structure of decentralisation. All the ministries have senior technical people on the ground who are in each province. These are the ones mobilised by the Ministers of State to make sure that they do the base analysis of what will be needed to come up with a regional GDP or local authority GDP,” he said.
Under a devolved state, each province will have its own economic development plan underpinned by resources found in that province.
Economic plans will be crafted by provincial councils, led by provincial ministers, whose role should also be development-oriented.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had also expressed concern over increasing road accidents in the country.
“Cabinet directed the Ministries that constitute the Civil Protection Unit to urgently revamp the country’s disaster response mechanisms so as to ensure swift assistance to victims,” she said.