Clarity needed on provincial ministers

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s move to bring in provincial governors disguised as ministers of State responsible for provinces is likely to create constitutional challenges as it effectively suppresses devolution of power.

The move makes a mockery of an agreement reached between Zanu PF and the two MDC parties that saw devolution of power form part of the new constitution for Zimbabwe.

Negotiating teams led by Zanu PF’s Patrick Chinamasa and the secretary-generals of the two MDC factions Tendai Biti and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga pumped in hours and hours negotiating that the provincial chairperson will come from the party with majority seats in that particular province and the chairperson must be elected by the provincial council.

It was a fantastic deal, the country’s 10 provinces will each have a provincial assembly made up of Members of Parliament and Senators from that area, representatives of local authorities and 10 individuals elected by proportional representation as well as a provincial governor.

The provincial assembly was supposed to nominate two possible candidates for governor which they will forward to the president who will choose from the two.

Under the Lancaster House constitution, the president appointed governors who were invariably members of his party and he seems hell bent on reinstating those powers, albeit unconstitutionally.

There is really nothing surprising here because Zanu PF has always vowed not to support any constitution with devolution of power, with officials claiming it would encourage secession advocates in Matabeleland to push for a withdrawal from Zimbabwe.

Of course that was all hogwash.

The move by Mugabe to appoint provincial ministers of State is a slap in the face of the two MDC  parties and millions of their supporters — who have placed devolution at the heart of their policies.

What Mugabe has done is tantamount to rejecting people’s views after the issue registered high during an outreach programme led by a parliamentary committee to collect the people’s views.

Devolution must be accompanied by measures to ensure that provincial and local governments are democratic, transparent and accountable.

In the absence of such measures provincial and local governments will be inefficient and corrupt, and incapable of gaining and retaining the trust of the people.

Under the current circumstances, there is no doubt that devolution is under severe threat with the appointment of Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs putting paid to any hopes of decentralising power.

It is trite to note that those provincial ministers will report directly to the president, hence their interaction with provincial councils or mayors of respective areas will be superficial.

They will override every programme set to be taken in their respective provinces.

Infact, this makes the provincial councils a sub-structure of local government, rendering mayors redundant.

Comments (2)

As if in his life Mugabe has followed people's views. Is this new? Mugabe is Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is Mugabe and he wants to make sure if he goes Zimbabwe goes too.

maita - 17 September 2013

"I ........ do swear that I will be loyal to the ........and uphold the constitution of Zimbabwe........" Really??? is this what he meant by loyalty.The amount of frustration our president is causing us makes one wonder whether he is Zimbabwean. God please hear our cries for freedom and liberate us. We have exhausted all man-made solutions and ideas, the Evil promises to live on, we now are left with you as our only hope.

McAaron - 21 September 2013

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