Local authorities’ plan pans out

The Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry has started working on a legal framework and attendant regulations for seamless devolution of power from central Government to local authorities.

This entails aligning laws such as the Provincial Councils and Administration Act to the Constitution.

Discussions are underway on how to balance ministerial authority and devolved power.

Director of urban authorities in the Local Government Ministry, Ms Erica Jones, said: “We have started working on the issue and we had a meeting with the outgoing minister (July Moyo) last week.

“We are now working on aligning some of the legal issues to the Constitution – Acts such as the Provincial Councils and Administration Act, as well as the powers of rural and urban authorities.

“We are also working on how the minister will not interfere with (the) provincial metropolitan minister. We are also working on how the five percent budget will be shared amongst the provincial councils, how this will affect decentralisation and decongestion.

“We are also working on the role of central Government. We are also working on how differentiate between provincial Government worker with a council worker. Those are some of the issues that we are seized with at the moment. It is a huge task, but we (have) started working on it.”

Devolution is expected to help achieve fair and balanced development through provincial councils, which are allowed by the Constitution to set local development priorities.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to put economics ahead of politics in the Second Republic.

Each province is expected to have its own economic development plans that are underpinned by resources found within its boundaries.

Economic plans will be crafted by provincial councils, led by provincial ministers, whose role will be to spearhead economic development.

In his inauguration speech last Sunday, President Mnangagwa said: “As per our pledge during the campaign trail, my Government will be implementing the constitutional provisions with regards the devolution of Government powers and responsibilities. Provinces will now be expected to plan and grow their provincial economies.

“Economic development at every level is the ultimate goal. I, therefore, challenge local authorities in the Second Republic to be engines of local economic development and growth. My Government will not stand by and watch people suffer due to dereliction of duty, corruption or incompetence within our local authorities.”

Urban and rural planning expert Mr Nyasha Mutsinikwa said devolution would foster development as it would cater for specific needs for residents.

“Devolution has been on the cards for a long time; thus, talking about and taking steps to implement it is a positive move.

“Local authorities are bound to foster development and speak directly to the needs of residents as they would be taking the lead in solving their problems and coming up with solutions,” he said.

African countries that have embraced devolution include Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.

In South Africa, the devolved system of governance has seen provinces funding 85 percent of their budgetary needs.

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