Devolution has started bearing fruit, with the implementation of an assortment of projects, from dams, roads and clinics to schools and police bases, among others, transforming the countryside.
Development projects have been rolled out countrywide as provinces use $2,93 billion set aside for devolution in the 2020 National Budget.
To drive the projects, the Government will set up provincial councils before the end of the year following the recent gazetting of the Constitutional Amendment Bill which spells out their functions.
Dams, roads, classroom blocks, clinics, boreholes and police bases are some of the priority projects that have been completed or are still being worked on in some parts of the country, transforming the lives of the ordinary folk.
The setting up of provincial and metropolitan councils — consisting of a chairperson, mayor or the chairperson of a local authority and 10 persons elected by a system of proportional representation during the 2018 elections – will ensure efficient coordination and monitoring of developmental projects.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill is expected to go through Parliament during the first quarter of the year, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said.
Government has also moved in to fill vacancies of key posts of provincial and district development coordinators who will be responsible for monitoring projects in their respective areas.
Acting Secretary for Local Government and Public Works, Mr Christopher Shumba, said: “The Public Service Commission is seized with the matter. Adverts for these posts were flighted late last year and I am sure these posts will be filled soon.”
“We are happy with what is happening on the ground. Initially, some local authorities were sceptical about the devolution programme. Trainings were done and everyone is now speaking the same language. Some local authorities were failing to fully maximise the allocated money, while some thought the money would be diverted to other projects.
“Money is only released for budgeted projects and we expect wide consultations from all stakeholders before coming up with budgets that are forwarded to head office for approval. Our major targets are infrastructure development as well as water and sanitation projects.”
Buoyed by the timeous release of funds, provinces have moved in earnest to ensure the implementation of projects under their jurisdiction.
Harare Metropolitan provincial development coordinator, Mrs Catherine Kampila, said each local authority had received two batches of funds under devolution funds.
“Although I do not have the actual figures of the money disbursed so far since I am out of the office, all local authorities have received two disbursements so far. Most of the money was used for water and sanitation projects. Ruwa Town Board also used their allocation to buy a refuse truck as well as install robots.
“Other local authorities like Harare, Chitungwiza and Epworth were also involved in water and sanitation projects. A number of boreholes were also drilled in different parts of the province using this money. We are still to receive any disbursements for 2020,” she said.
Mashonaland Central provincial development coordinator, Mr Cosmas Chiringa said they received $29,4m in four batches.
“The disbursements were $4,6m, $4,6m, $5,7m and $21,4m respectively. All local authorities have embarked on capital projects ranging from schools, clinic construction, borehole drilling, road works and bus terminus construction.
“The fourth disbursement received by the end of December 2019 was channelled towards civil protection works like renovating school roofs and clinics that were destroyed by wind and hailstorm,” said Mr Chiringa.
Pfura Rural District Council is constructing a bus terminus and public toilets in Mt Darwin as well as working on water reticulation projects.
In Guruve, the money was used for the construction of Chifamba Secondary School laboratory, two teachers’ houses at Impinge and Museka primary schools, one classroom block and two teachers’ houses at Vira Secondary School and the solar electrification of the council head office at Shinje Business Centre.
Rushinga Rural District Council is working on the construction of Nyatsato, Ganganyama and Chitepo clinics as well as the Mukosa Police Base. The projects are at various stages of completion.
Mr Chiringa said Chaminuka Rural District Council was working on Makanda Clinic as well as the renovation of Tarlington farm house turning it into a clinic.
Mbire Rural District Council has projects like Majinga Dip Tank, Mushumbi Slaughter House, Mushumbi Solar Lightning and Kado Dip Tank at various stages of completion.
Mazowe did not receive its third disbursement because it was deposited in a wrong account, while Guruve and Rushinga received three disbursements.
Beitbridge Municipality got $3,5m and Beitbridge Rural District Council $1,5m for devolution related projects.
Beitbridge district coordinator, Mrs Skhangazile Mafu-Moyo, said the town council had used their allocation to address issues of water and sanitation as well as procuring solid waste management equipment.
She said some of the procured equipment include; a backhoe loader, tipper truck, refuse compactor (self-weighing), bowser and a compressor.
“Most of the equipment has been paid for and we expect the local authority to take its delivery at the end of January,” said Mrs Mafu-Moyo.
“With respect to the RDC, they have used their allocation to increase the number of primary care health centres. So far civil works are underway at Dumba Clinic (Ward 15), while they are putting final touches on Chabili Clinic’s water and sanitation facilities and the construction of a staff cottage. The clinic is in Ward Two. We expect the clinic to open its doors soon.”
Mrs Mafu-Moyo said they were expecting to construct more clinics and schools in the district to address present shortages.
She said in terms of investment, there were a lot of opportunities in mining, livestock production, tourism, education, manufacturing, transport and logistics among others.
Midlands Province last year received over $46m under the devolution fund which provincial development coordinator, Mr Abiot Maronge said was distributed to all the local authorities in accordance to their sizes.
He said local authorities embarked on many development projects using the fund.
Tongogara Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Brain Rufasha, said the local authority received $2,4m which was used to construct a primary and secondary school as well as three clinics
“We have been doing a lot in trying to improve on health care delivery, but we are lagging behind in education facilities especially in resettlement areas. We have been using our devolution allocation funds to improve on this, but we have exhausted the money,” he said.
Zvishavane Town Council secretary Mr Tinomuda Mukutu said Zvishavane received $1,6 million which they used to pay deposit for a bulldozer, grader and tipper truck.
Masvingo received a total of $24m from an allocation of $33m which saw most local authorities constructing clinics, schools and drilling boreholes.
Acting provincial development coordinator, Mr Roy Hove, said most districts had utilised their first and second batches ranging between $700 000 and $2m per tranche.
“All the nine local authorities received their share of devolution funds in 2019. The funds came in three tranches and the final batch was disbursed in the third quarter of the year,” said Mr Hove.
In Matabeleland North, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Richard Moyo said their major projects include the rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Nkayi and Bulawayo Tsholotsho roads as well as well as the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
“The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is now 40 percent complete and we expect completion of this project in 2021. We are also working on rehabilitation of our roads.
“All rural district councils have fully embraced the devolution agenda and projects are at various stages of completion. We also want to ensure that all infrastructure that was damaged by natural disasters is also repaired. The lives of people in the province should be changed for the better,” said Minister Moyo.