'Establish provincial, metropolitan councils'

HARARE - Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) and the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) are calling upon President Emmerson Mnangagwa to implement devolution and expedite the establishment of provincial and metropolitan councils as provided for in Chapter 14 of the Constitution.

“We welcome the recent pronouncement by the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ministry that it has started working on a legal framework and attendant regulations for seamless devolution of governmental power and responsibilities to local authorities.

“The process of crafting a legal framework for devolution must be participatory, time-bound and in conformity with the Constitution.

“Further delay in the promulgation of devolution laws will delay the establishment of provincial and metropolitan councils. The citizens who voted for provincial councillors are expecting these institutions to be established and operationalised so that they can start to spearhead local economic development in the provinces and districts as spelled out in the Constitution,” said the organisations.

They added that the provincial and metropolitan councils must be adequately resourced by central government so that they can play an effective role in local economic development as well as monitor the performance of local councils.

“Further, the devolution laws or policies being formulated by government must do away with the Local Government Amendment Act of 2016 which was imposed by the former minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere despite protestations from civil society and other key stakeholders.

“The Local Government Amendment Act and other local government laws such as Rural District Councils Act and Urban Councils Act must be repealed in line with the principle of devolution.”

They said the new administration must send a clear signal on its readiness to implement the constitutional provisions on devolution.

“A repeat of the 2013 scenario where elected provincial and metropolitan councillors were denied the opportunity to take their oaths of office and assume their responsibilities should never be tolerated in 2018, given the encouraging statements by central government on devolution before and after the 30 July, 2018 harmonised elections.

“The devolution of governmental power and responsibilities to local and provincial councils helps to achieve fair and balanced development through provincial and metropolitan councils, which are allowed by the Constitution to set local development priorities. Governmental powers have to be devolved to the local people so that there is increased transparency and accountability in the decision making, governance and management of public affairs by local authorities.

“Provincial governments must be fully in control of their local authorities and central government must only give policy direction and play an oversight role to ensure that public resources are not abused.”

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