Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The national devolution policy promotes fair distribution of resources critical for the growth of provincial economies, but provincial ministers must as a result prioritise economic growth in their provinces, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
The President met the 10 ministers of State for Provincial Affairs at State House in Harare to discuss progress in devolution and provincial growth and lay down the policy priorities in line with Vision 2030 that sees Zimbabwe reaching middle income status by 2030.
The provincial ministers are: Eng Oliver Chidau (Harare), Cde Ruth Ncube (Bulawayo), Cde Mary Mliswa-Chikoka (Mashonaland West), Cde Apollonia Munzverengi (Mashonaland East), Cde Monica Mavhunga (Mashonaland Central), Cde Ellen Gwaradzimba (Manicaland), Cde Larry Mavima (Midlands), Cde Ezra Chadzamira (Masvingo), Cde Abednico Ncube (Matabeleland South) and Cde Richard Moyo (Matabeleland North).
Vice President Kembo Mohadi and several Cabinet ministers also attended the meeting.
Devolution is provided for in Chapter 14 of the Constitution with its main goal being the equitable allocation of national resources and the participation of local communities in the determination of development priorities within their areas.
Government has since started the disbursement of devolution funds to local authorities as part of the policy.
“We set out to implement devolution not merely as a political empowerment tool but as a means to achieve equitable economic development and equalisation for all parts of our country,” President Mnangagwa said.
“We boldly declared an end to red tape, bureaucracy and lopsided development associated with the perception of Harare province being ‘bamba zonke’.
“By so doing, we envisaged the development of vibrant provincial economies with distinct provincial gross domestic product. This model is and still is an important building block to the achievement of Vision 2030. I, therefore, exhort us to keep in mind this goal and work tirelessly to achieve the desired results.”
President Mnangagwa said the provincial ministers were important in the implementation of Government programmes and policies and must facilitate development in the context of national priorities and resources in their provinces.
He challenged them to take advantage of their competitive advantages in crafting their development policies, paying attention to strategies that promote production and value addition.
“The ease of doing business reforms that have been implemented to date must be a stepping stone to the attraction of productive investments into the provinces and districts.
“Provinces must identify, implement and track high impact flagship projects across all sectors of the economy. Opportunities must be created and facilitated for our citizens in the diaspora to invest and participate back in their home provinces,” President Mnangagwa said.
Provinces should, in the future, have economic and social indicators to track their development in terms of productivity, employment creation, export earnings and import substitution initiatives as part of the periodic provincial reports and briefs they present.
Turning to the economic sectors, President Mnangagwa said agriculture remained central to Government’s development agenda despite the effects of three successive droughts and the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.
“Government recently launched the Agricultural Recovery Plan, to ensure agriculture transformation and modernisation for the attainment of food self-sufficiency through smart agriculture practices.
“In addition, the plan seeks to facilitate the diversification of food production and consumption, speeding irrigation and mechanisation programmes, the creation of green belts in areas such as Masvingo, Bulawayo Kraal, Kanyemba among others; improving and capacitating our extension services as well as the overall innovation and modernisation of agriculture, among other aspects,” said the President.
He said the ongoing downsizing of farms to viable maximum sizes for each ecological zone will free more land for new farmers and pledged Government’s continued support to farmers through the Presidential Input Scheme and the Command Agriculture Programme under the new financing model.
The President said vulnerable groups would continue to receive Government support.
“Projects, which accelerate the improvement in the quality of life of the people must be timely implemented and constantly monitored. The rehabilitation and construction of roads, bridges, dams, water and sanitation infrastructure, which are important economic enablers must remain a priority.
“In line with our modernisation and industrialisation agenda, deliberate strategies must be made at the provincial levels to attract and facilitate investments for the development of green energy solutions and ICT infrastructure,” President Mnangagwa said.
Small and medium enterprises were an important sector and the re-opening of the sector in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic must continue to be monitored and within set health guidelines.
“In the tourism sector, new, robust and innovative strategies must be implemented to attract both domestic and external tourists. I challenge provinces to also look beyond the obvious to develop new tourism products and places of interest,” he said.