HomePoliticsConstitution: Where MDC-T, Zanu PF diverge

Constitution: VP posts to be based on seniority

ZANU PF is pushing for a new constitution that has a centralised form of government as is currently the case, but with devolution of some powers to provinces and local authorities, while the MDC-T is proposing total devolution of power to communities.

In contrast to the two parties, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) is recommending a system of provincial governments with a provincial assembly in each province and an executive council headed by an elected governor.
In a document on the 17 thematic areas of a new constitution, Zanu PF said the system of government should comprise a national government, provincial, urban and rural councils and traditional leaders.
On the other hand, the MDC-T said the government should be composed of three tiers — the national government, provincial councils and local authorities, made up of urban councils and district councils.
The district councils would be charged with the responsibility for managing the affairs of rural areas.
In its draft constitution, the NCA said the country should be divided into five provinces — Manicaland, Mashonaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland and Midlands — and there should be a provincial legislature to be called a provincial assembly consisting of not less than 30 members and not more than 50 members, elected on an electoral system based on proportional representation. 
The provincial assembly would have power to initiate and pass provincial laws, which would be assented to and signed by the governor. It may impose a tax or levy.
The NCA said the governor would be elected by the provincial assembly from among its members at its first sitting.
The provincial governor would then appoint not more than 10 members from the provincial assembly to constitute an executive council which will act as a cabinet for the province.
The NCA draft constitution also provides for urban and rural councils.
While Zanu PF still believes that provincial governors to chair 10 provincial councils should be appointed by the president, with rural and urban councils elected, the MDC-T is advocating democratically elected provincial councils and local authorities, which it said would ensure as much autonomy as is compatible with good governance.
MDC-T said: “Functions and responsibilities must be decentralised and transferred from the central government to provincial councils and local authorities in a coordinated manner.”
It said a provincial council would be responsible for coordinating governmental activities in its province.
MDC-T said each province should be entitled — through its provincial council or its local authorities — to raise sufficient revenue or to retain the same percentage of monies raised from resources and taxes in its area or both to enable such authorities to carry out their functions and responsibilities.
It said a provincial council should make some provision for the inclusion of or liaison and co-operation with MPs from the provinces and may permit elected officials to hold posts.
The party also proposed that no minister should have the power to either dissolve an elected local authority or to dismiss an elected official of a local authority.
Provincial councils, Zanu PF said, should have a provincial governor, all members of both Houses of Parliament within the province and such representatives of each local authority in the province as may be determined from time to time.
It said a provincial council would be responsible for coordinating government’s activities, planning development, encouraging tourism and developing facilities for that purpose, planning and implementing measures for conservation, and improvement and management of natural resources in its province.
Zanu PF said: “There should be different taxes that can be levied at national, provincial and local authority levels to ensure that all the levels in the government structure have reliable sources of revenue.”
It said central government should provide adequate financial and other resources to provincial councils and urban and rural district councils.
Zanu PF also wants traditional leaders to be incorporated in local government structures.
It said there should be decentralisation of power to provincial, rural and urban councils.
“Decentralisation must be a principle applying to all levels of local government to enable participation by the people and democratic control in decision-making,” said Zanu PF.
“Yes, there should be provincial governments called provincial councils. Zimbabwe should remain a unitary state in which there is decentralisation of power from the national government to the provincial councils.”
Although Zanu PF talks of provincial and local authorities having as much autonomy as is compatible with good governance, analysts said Zimbabweans should not be fooled because the appointed governors would serve the president’s and their party’s interests as is the case now.
Constitutional lawyer and chairperson of the NCA, Lovemore Madhuku said: “Zanu PF uses language which is tricky like ‘decentralising’, ‘autonomy’. They want to retain the current system where the president makes appointments. They have taken Zanu PF provincial structures and are not really talking about devolution. Varikutamba nesu (They are playing games with us).”


Faith Zaba

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