Strengthening of planning structures towards Vision 2030

14 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Strengthening of planning structures towards Vision 2030

The Sunday Mail

Dr Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo

Oversight structures

In terms of the oversight role, there are a number of institutions that may oversee the implementation of a national plan.

These include Parliament, Office of the President and Cabinet, and a planning commission.

The roles of Parliament and the Office of the Auditor-General shall be to ensure that accountability, transparency and value for money are upheld whilst think-tanks such as Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking (ZIST) will play a key role in initiating, discussing and making recommendations regarding development issues to both Parliament and local authorities.

Policy, coordination and implementing institutions

These will include Cabinet; Office of the President and Cabinet; Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion; and other line ministries. In addition, provincial and district administration offices, as well as local government structures shall also be responsible for the implementation of development programmes.

Advisory structures

These may include a National Development Coordinating Committee (NDCC), Committee of Permanent Secretaries, Cluster Advisory Groups (CAGs), and Provincial Development Coordinating Committees (PDCCs). At district level, the District Development Coordinating Committees (DDCCs) and the Ward Development Committees (WDCs) at ward level shall be responsible for the advisory role.

Implementation strategies of national development plan

Institutions will be required to jointly undertake programming and sequencing of projects and activities through joint annual operational plans, which will inform budgeting and financing mechanisms.

Programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation will also be undertaken jointly. National level coordination will progressively work towards enhancing synergies between institutions for efficient and effective implementation of programmes at all levels.

The relationships among institutions must be clearly mapped and developed in a manner that promotes reinforcement of outcomes by all the players.

Sectors will, however, interface with lower-level structures on programmes that relate to their mandate by way of providing policy guidance and oversight.

The intensity and resource requirements will vary across provinces and districts depending on the development status of each of those entities.

Decentralisation as an empowerment tool

Decentralisation refers to the transfer of political power, decision-making capacity and resources from central to sub-national levels of government. A number of arguments have been advanced to support decentralisation including:

•            Allocative efficiency: Local authorities are more sensitive to local priorities and needs, and can modify service provision to reflect this

•            Information provision: Local government can keep people informed as they are in direct contact with users of services.

•            Responsiveness: The proximity of local government to service users means that, provided that they have sufficient autonomy, they can be more responsive to local needs than central government.

•            Local revenue maximization: Local authorities can optimise local sources of revenue by levying local taxes, fees and user charges and using the income locally.

•            Accountability: Local communities are better placed to influence politics and policy at the local level than at the national level. Communities can put direct pressure on local authorities if they are unhappy with the delivery of services.

However, decentralisation is not without risks, namely:

•            Elite capture: Local elites may capture the benefits of decentralisation and are not necessarily more pro-poor than national elites

•            Revenue minimisation: Local government may have limitations in their capacity to mobilise local financial resources, or be unwilling to do so

•            Corruption: More people have political influence under decentralisation and consequently the risks of corruption may be higher

•            Weak administrative and management systems: The transfer of responsibilities and resources to Local Government requires effective and efficient administrative and management systems, which may take a while to develop at the local level.

•            Lack of participation: The decentralisation of resources and authority will not automatically result in more inclusive processes

•            Planning in general has moved away from being only concerned with control and increasingly concerned with:

•            • Harmonisation of activities across sectors

•            • Efficient distribution of resources

•            • Facilitating pro-poor outcomes

•            • Providing tools for analysis and implementation

•            • The creation of an enabling environment for development activities

•            • Being able to manage change while continuing to provide guidance in the event of change.

Decentralisation – Community participation matrix

Planning systems have an important role to play in creating an enabling environment for local communities to participate in development decisions and activities.

This is despite the fact that in some cases in the African context, the decentralisation agenda is pioneered by international development agencies under the auspices of promoting good governance.

It goes without saying that participation can take many forms, not all of which are empowering to local communities.

At its most token, participation is limited to providing information to communities, with decision-making about development interventions being the responsibility of councillors and technical officials.

Participation of communities in the identification and prioritisation of needs and in decision making with respect to the allocation of resources to meet those needs is a more empowering form of participation.

In practice, participative processes usually fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Participatory process and their associated methodologies play a useful role in articulating local needs and aspirations, and identifying development interventions.

However, due to capacity constraints on the part of participants, these interventions are not necessarily strategic in nature or consistent with the policy of higher levels of government.

In the context of decentralisation, planning systems are increasingly required to undertake this function of integrating top-down strategic obligations with the bottom-up outcomes of participatory processes.

Structure and function of a national planning commission

A national planning commission will typically consist of representatives from various state institutions and strategic thinkers with a diverse range of expertise.

It typically works under the guidance of the minister responsible for national planning to produce a long-term plan.

Its purpose is to prevent government from being trapped in its own institutional preconceptions. Commissioners will be expected to ask challenging questions about plans and demand satisfactory responses.

They will also be responsible for creating broad consensus not just on the outcomes of development but also on the strategies and trade-offs needed in building a prosperous nation. Alongside a national strategic plan, other outputs of the planning commission include an annual plan of action which will focus more on measurable objectives and a series of special reports on key issues.

There will also be a series of papers on thematic, cross-cutting areas that impact on the development and government’s policies.

These outputs would play a role in shaping policies, programmes, budgets and resource allocation. The planning ministry would also help enhance the capacity of government, including state-owned enterprises and public entities to plan more effectively.

This is because only the executive arm of government can take policy decisions that are binding on government.

Accordingly, the minister must facilitate close interaction between the commission and the executive in consultation with a secretariat that will support the commission’s work.

The minister would also lead interaction with broader civil society on the development of the plan.

A long-term plan has to be informed by breaking down the country’s high-level aspirations into focused strategies.

These would deal with such issues as economic development; human resource development, building a developmental state; enhancing regional stability; environmental factors such as the global economy; climate change; demographic trends and regional peace and stability.

Long-term cross-cutting issues such as food, energy and water security would also have to be factored in.

Effective national strategic planning requires clarity on the role of the planning ministry and the national planning commission, as well as capacity to support the planning process.

Dr Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the head of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking (ZIST) and he can be contacted at [email protected]

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