The intentions by the government of Zimbabwe to takeover local clinics under the guise of having standardized service delivery as envisaged by the National Development Strategy, is a direct attack of devolution provided by the constitution of Zimbabwe.
We warn that the takeover not only has implications on accountability but is a catalyst for corruption, strips local authorities of power and property to manage their own affairs which will have serious implications on primary health care provision.
The actions by the government takeover of functions of local authorities cannot be justified as this renders local authorities useless.
We anticipated that the government to comply with its Devolution and Decentralization Policy of 2020 which assigns the government to the role of setting policy and standard frameworks, monitoring to facilitate oversight of the maintenance of standards and adherence, and provide capacity building to local authorities, with devolved State powers to deliver quality services to the citizens than taking over.
We expect the government of Zimbabwe to religiously disburse health grants to local authorities timeously as provided by the law for provision of primary health care. It is disturbing that while the central government acknowledges there are unfunded mandates which are straining local authorities, it is blaming municipalities on this capacity gap.
Instead of taking over clinics, the government in the 2022 budget must ensure adequate and sufficient financial resources and improve the working conditions of its health care personnel.
The recent assertions by the Minister of Health, Vice President Chiwenga of taking over local clinics by the government come at a time when the central government has taken over roads rehabilitation and refuse collection which are functions of local authorities.
The presence of the central government in the functions of local authorities is worrying and is a reversal of the gains of decentralization made by the country since independence and in a dispensation that is expecting to fully implement devolution, the move is unacceptable.
Section 276 of the constitution empowers local authorities the right of self-governance and to manage the local affairs of the people within the area for which it has been established, and has all the powers necessary for it to do so.
CHRA calls on the government of Zimbabwe to conduct broader consultations on the matter, so that they can act on an informed point of view and allow citizens to be involved in the decision making processes of this pertinent matter.
Source: Combined Harare Residents Association