The Sunday Mail
Hon July Moyo
In four days’ time, Zimbabwe turns 39. However, this year’s commemorations are particularly unique as they mark a historical epoch where, for the first time since independence, real power will be handed over from central Government to communities to enable them to implement developmental projects.
Devolution, which has gained traction under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, not only targets to decentralise power to districts and provinces, but it is also designed to promote inclusive national development.
Not surprisingly, the theme for this year’s independence is “Zimbabwe at 39: Embracing Devolution for Vision 2030.”
Our Chief Reporter Kuda Bwititi spoke to Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo to explore the significance of this year’s Uhuru celebrations, as well as get an update on preparations for the grand event.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Zimbabwe at 39: Embracing Devolution for Vision 2030.” This theme has been carefully chosen in line with the developmental trajectory of the Second Republic.
President Mnangagwa has made devolution a top priority of his governance architecture so that the ordinary people in all parts of Zimbabwe can have tangible evidence of progress under the Second Republic.
Government wants to ensure that they will be big celebrations throughout the country in line with the devolution agenda.
It is in that vein that we are encouraging all Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators to celebrate the event in their respective provinces so that devolution makes sense.
The exception can be for ministers and other senior party officials who may need to be at the main venue for purposes of protocol.
It is very important to emphasise the issue of devolution because this is the running theme and the President wants this to cascade to the people. The outstanding significance of this celebration is that this is the first time that Government has directly allocated resources to provinces for them to undertake various projects. All the 10 provinces have been allocated money from central Government.
This is the significance of devolution.
It should be also noted that we are doing devolution at provincial and local level.
All 92 local authorities have been allocated funds. This is the first time that this has happened since the Constitution was passed in 2013, hence the theme.
Now we are saying this independence is deepening the participation of Zimbabweans through the control of their own natural resources and also through the transfer of national funds so that they can be used at the local level. Also, we strongly feel that devolution is the best strategy for us to achieve Vision 2030: for an upper middle-income economy.
We are not going to leave any part of Zimbabwe behind and that is why, in this year’s budget, monies have been transferred to all local authorities and provincial councils to deal with the issue of marginalisation.
Those who are marginalised in education infrastructure, health infrastructure, water, sewage, and energy-related infrastructure, as well as in roads infrastructure, have been given more money than those that are not marginalised.
Furthermore, we are cognisant that the country held elections last year and devolution was one of the main campaign messages.
The President promised the people that he would deliver devolution to their door steps, so implementing this programme is fulfilling the big promise that we made.
The President’s words have come to pass and we are proud that $310 million was allocated in the national budget for devolution programmes.
Disbursement of these funds is dependent on the actual programmes which the respective provinces and districts will submit in relation to the economic potential in their areas.
Most of the local authorities are submitting their programmes for approval and they are excited about the prospects that this programme brings.
The framework for disbursing is there and the law is there.
The framework for disbursing is the Finance Act, which has been approved.
The Local Authorities Act, the Provincial Councils and Administration Act is also there. It needs to be amended to align it with the Constitution, but it is there.
The programme is also well articulated in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), and we are clear on who is getting what.
Unity of Purpose
Devolution must, therefore, give us an opportunity to unite in celebration as a peaceful people.
Despite the tragic Cyclone Idai disaster that we have had, Zimbabweans have shown immense ability to show love, to fight the disaster and uplift those that are vulnerable.
The response to the disaster epitomises the same unity of purpose that characterised the fight for Independence.
Our President has also shown unity of purpose after he led 17 other political leaders to spend two days in Chimanimani to distribute the much-needed food items, oversee repair of damaged infrastructure and also console Zimbabweans who have lost property, who have lost their loved ones or who were injured.
This disaster is another reason why Zimbabweans must celebrate together.
It is the President’s wish that all political leaders should come to the National Sports Stadium (NSS) because this is a national day.
Invitations have been sent to all opposition parties and they will be treated with decorum, regardless of which party they represent.
I, therefore, want to emphasise that on this day, issues of political affiliation should be set aside. We need to unite as a people and celebrate this day as one people. This is one of the most important days for Zimbabwe on its calendar and it is significant to show that despite our differences, we are one people.
Our preparations for this year’s Independence Day are in good order. The overall logistics are coordinated by us in the Ministry because the venue in Harare is the National Sports Stadium (NSS), for which we are the managers.
We also have specific duties being undertaken by different ministries, so it is a united effort in Government because this is one of the most important days on our calendar.
Government always mobilises resources for these celebrations.
At district and provincial levels, there is a lot of fundraising that goes on because this is a national event.
We are responsible for arranging and making sure that the venue is spruced up, and that has already been done.
As we speak, we are printing all the invitation cards and torch bearers have been identified and are preparing for the big day.
Harare City Council is attending to the roads to make sure that road surfaces and the surrounding environs are in excellent condition. In terms of the tents, the tendering process has been opened and we know that they will be ready, with the winner to be announced next week in time for the big day.
Pertaining to entertainment, a number of artists will perform and these include Alick Macheso and the Mahendere Brothers.
In terms of sport, the teams that will be playing are Highlanders and Dynamos for the Independence Trophy.
The independence flame is ready and serviced.
All rehearsals are currently being done, sitting arrangements are being organised, including banding, decorations and banners. We are happy about everything so far.
The Ministry of Information (Publicity and Broadcasting Services) will also issue a more detailed statement on all logistics such as transport that will be offered to the people to go the main venue.