This Policy brief was developed by the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) and Harare Residents Trust (HRT) in consultation with key local government stakeholders. The paper provides an outline of key concerns and issues regarding devolution and proffers recommendations for consideration by government and parliament in crafting the new legislation to guide the implementation of devolution in Zimbabwe. The issue of devolution is topical and government has indicated its commitment to implementing it. However, the delay in the crafting of legislation to guide devolution is a serious cause for concern for citizens and other local government stakeholders.
The Zimbabwean Constitution Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 provides the framework for devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities in Section 264. Also in Section 5 of the Constitution, the tiers of government provided are the national government, provincial and metropolitan councils as well as local authorities. Since the adoption of the new Constitution in 2013, the government has not yet crafted legislation to devolve power to provincial and metropolitan councils. Rather there have been reversals and an attempt to completely do away with Provincial and Metropolitan Councils to scuttle devolution. In 2016, the government of Zimbabwe passed the Local Government Amendment Act despite protestations from civil society and other key stakeholders. This Act is ultra-vires the constitutional provisions on devolution as it gives central government wide powers to interfere with the operations of local authorities and dismiss democratically-elected Chairpersons and Mayors.
The establishment of Provincial and Metropolitan Councils (PMCs) as spelled out in Chapter 14 of the Constitution is long overdue. It is against this background that CCDZ and HRT continue to engage government and parliament on the need for comprehensive local government reforms including crafting legislation to allow devolution of power to Provincial and Metropolitan Councils as opposed to the piecemeal approach of the old dispensation.
The devolution of power 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 must be devolved to the local people so that there is increased transparency and accountability in governance and decision-making as well as management of public affairs and resources by local authorities. Provincial governments must be fully in control of their local authorities whilst central government plays an oversight role to ensure that public resources are used in a transparent manner.
Source: Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) & Harare Residents Trust (HRT)