By Martin Muleya
Eight years after the promulgation of the new Constitution, Zimbabwe has witnessed figureheads representing devolution but have not yet without the transformation of the new system.
Devolution loosely translated refers to the diffusing of Governmental power from the centre to the periphery. Devolution is premised on the fact that development should be locally driven, deepening democracy, improving service delivery and promoting national integration and peace whilst recognizing diversity.
Section 264(1) gives effect to devolution. “Whenever appropriate, Governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities, which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively”.
The provincial government constitutes eight provincial councils and two metropolitan councils whereas the local tier consists of the urban and rural local authorities. The provincial government is then constituted by ten elected persons, elected under the system of proportional representation.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Good Governance Symposium held early this week, Mutare lawyer Advocate Passmore Nyakureba questioned the capacity of the current provincial establishments to be able to successfully implement devolution adding that there are still people from the old system who have been transformed to the new system which is technically absent.
Advocate Nyakureba said devolution is still a serious governance issue facing Manicaland as a province.
“A major issue with regards to its composition is the role of Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Provincial Development Coordinators within the devolution model. It is still unclear what role they play. It will not be desirable to have a provincial Minister who himself/herself is a Presidential appointee being part of the Provincial Council.
“It is surprising how provincial leadership has been using the devolution funds without first fulfilling the technical structures within the Constitution,” he said.
TIZ board of Trustees chairperson Professor Sikhalazo Dube also weighed in saying his organisation relied on the formal accountability mechanisms in which Government entities such as the local Councillors and Parliamentarians holding local authorities and Government entities account to horizontal accountability where citizens hold duty bearers to account.
He underscored that the absence of effective figureheads representing devolution has catapulted corruption in the country to be endemic and systemic.
“Devolution if fully implemented will foster participation, representation, responsiveness, efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability. Local governments have a pivotal role to play in the broader developmental agenda, moreso in providing interface between the central government and local communities.
“It is sad to note that as a country we continue to score badly on corruption and governance indices such as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). In 2020, Zimbabwe was ranked number 157 out of 180 countries assessed with a low CPI score of 24 out of 100, which is below the regional average of 32. This low CPI score is indicative of the high level of perceived corruption in the public sector. Corruption has thus become endemic and systemic in Zimbabwe,” Prof Dube noted.
A local resident Richard Mugobo had no kind words for the Councillors housed at Civic Centre.
Mugobo accused the Blessing Tandi led council of being involved in corrupt activities and bemoaned the fact that of the 19 Wards in Mutare City only 12 wards still had their elected Councillors other seven wards had their Councillors recalled by their party.
“Mutare City has become a crime centre. Civic Centre has become the citadel of corruption and this has led citizens not participating in terms of demanding effective service delivery because there is no longer effective representation to talk about.
“There are also recalled Councillors who have stagnated the conduct of business at the Town House.
“This has added to the ineffective residential representatives who are now acting in cahoots with the same administration they are supposed to confront,” he said.
Mugobo he highlighted that for good governance tenets to kick start in the city there is need for citizens to own up the agenda and understand the struggle to enable them to demand effective service delivery.
He said while it is regrettable that there are wards with no representatives at the moment, citizens need to mobilize and create grass-root based media platforms that can amplify issues happening within their community.