FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has allocated US$310 million to facilitate the devolution of power to provincial councils following an outcry from marginalised communities.
By Nyasha Chingono
The devolution principle was enacted in the 2013 constitution following a push from marginalised communities particularly from Matabeleland and Manicaland.
Government has also approved the Principles of the Provincial Councils and Administration Amendment Bill, which spells out the mechanisms of decentralisation and devolution.
Provincial governments will be allocated 5% of government revenue for the development of local authorities.
“As spelt out in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, decentralisation is a key strategy for fair and just governance. All provinces should be able to plan and implement their economic growth and development using their factor endowments, with Central Government contributing through the 5% allocation annually,” Ncube said during his budget statement presentation yesterday.
The proposed devolution will be modelled on China’s template, which features economic centres that compute their own gross domestic product data for competitiveness purposes.
Under the proposed devolution, Harare Metropolitan will be Zimbabwe’s information communication technology nerve centre, while Bulawayo Metropolitan will be the country’s industrial hub.
Manicaland province will be the diamond beneficiation centre, with Midlands the iron and steel value-chain beneficiation centre.
“Government is cognisant of the urgent need to develop urban infrastructure, especially water and sanitation and roads. Therefore, Government will facilitate stronger partnership among relevant departments, respective local authorities,” Ncube said.
Treasury is also embarking on a programme to enhance provincial councils, to enhance accountability in the management of public resources, with growth points being nodes of development.
“The devolution strategy also embraces initiatives to facilitate establishment of companies in various districts, in line with the thrust to enhance production in respective provinces, with the long-established Growth Points being epicentres of this developmental thrust,” Ncube said.
The move will result in wholesale changes to the national governance architecture as it will decentralise and devolve power and authority—including fiscal, investment and economic responsibilities to each of the country’s 10 provinces.
Devolution activists argue that the governance mechanism makes revenue collection more efficient, while local authorities benefit from own resources.
Government will not only decentralise power, but also give responsibilities to provinces to craft provincial economic development plans that feed into the national agenda.