No govt budget for provincial councils

INAUGURAL provincial council members will have to wait a bit longer before they get down to business after it emerged there is neither funding provided for in the 2013 budget nor designated venues for their assembly in addition to the absence of an enabling Act.

PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

Provincial councils are a creature of the new constitution gazetted in May this year.

The constitution, among other things, expanded the Bill of Rights and created a bloated government with an enlarged parliament.

It also created eight provincial councils and two metropolitan provincial councils that will spearhead local development.
Mayors of Harare and Bulawayo will chair the Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan provinces respectively.

The provincial councils were established to accommodate growing calls from Zimbabweans for a devolved state since the 1999 constitutional review exercise. A watered down version of devolution was finally included, but the financing and enactment of an enabling law was left to the first parliament elected under the new constitution.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza confirmed that implementation of devolution may take a little bit longer because of procedural matters that should be dealt with first.

“The eighth parliament should first pass an enabling Act for provincial councils. The last parliament unfortunately expired before it debated the harmonised Local Government Bill,” Mabhiza said.

Local government in Zimbabwe is currently controlled by two Acts; the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act; but both do not have any clauses that can be used to run provincial councils.
Mabhiza added that permanent secretaries met on Tuesday to discuss ways they could make their ministries and departments’ operations be aligned to the new constitution.

Top on the agenda is the ministry of local government’s draft amendments to harmonise local government legislation.

“Local government officials are working on the draft so that parliament will quickly work on enacting a law to enable operations of provincial councils,” Mabhiza added.

This is not the first time the state has created institutions without an enabling act or adequate funding.

In 2010, government created the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which spent two years doing nothing. It, however, remains unclear how the provincial councils’ sitting calendar will be aligned to the National Assembly and senate sittings.

MPs will be members of provincial councils too, according to the constitution, in addition to 10 provincial council members elected through proportional representation on party lists.

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