Zimbabwe: Let's Be Wary of 'Paper Devolution'

opinion

THE finalisation of the constitution-making process six months after the initial agreement of July 18 2012 announced by the three principals of the Global Political Agreement -- Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC), President Robert Mugabe (Zanu PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) -- in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara opens new opportunities for settlement of the Zimbabwean political question.

The Zimbabwean political question is doubtlessly complicated, as the country has fragile national institutions resulting from a weak constitution which has allowed those in power to ride roughshod over the citizenry instead of providing checks and balances and a framework in which citizens are governed in a just and fair manner.

The current constitutional order and lack of constitutionalism, compounded by a culture of impunity and disrespect of the masses, has turned Zimbabwe into a global embarrassment.

Instead of providing safeguards for the protection of the citizens the constitution has been providing for the total oppression of its own. The constitutional order not only provided for the oppression of the citizens in terms of their basic democratic right but was also designed to be a vehicle for plunder and mutilation of other people's wealth.

The current over-centralised system of government to which Zimbabweans will wave a not-so-fond goodbye, promoted this tragic state of affairs in which some provinces became vampires, literally sucking other provinces dry in the exact manner that a vampire sucks out blood from the living.

Those who have suppression and the promotion of suffering of others in their DNA are prepared to perpetuate a system that relegates other citizens to second class status.

These people will always cry loudest when those from other regions demand economic justice by being allowed to have control of their destiny through the control of resources in their regions and political power.

The burden Ncube shouldered against a sea of resistance from Mugabe and Tsvangirai on the issue of devolution of power is proof the two men are the same sides of a coin.

It is clear that left to themselves the two would never have agreed to devolution but because of the pressure continuously exerted by Ncube there is movement albeit with anger from those opposed to the creation of a fair and just Zimbabwe.

The first defence of the historic victory on devolution is to vote "Yes" for the new constitution. This, however, is only the first line of defence of the constitution and provisions on devolution.

The second and more important one is to ensure the parties vote emphatically in the next election for people and parties that believe and are committed to the total implementation of devolution.

There is need to ensure the devolution we have gained is not just paper devolution; it should be devolution in a real sense. This means councillors, MPs, senators and members of the provincial government should all be committed to the implementation of the devolution clauses.

The only political leader who has shown unwavering commitment to devolution of power is Ncube.

Just to demonstrate how paranoid some people are about the fair and just distribution of resources and national wealth, there is a clause in the draft constitution which while acknowledging that Zimbabwe will be a unitary state with devolved power, goes on to explain that devolution does not mean cessation.

The net effect of this is that the people may have greater interest in experiencing this system that the constitution tries to bar. In fact, it confirms what we have always known; there is a select few who want to eat on behalf of the hungry masses.

The new proposals where there is creation of a provincial government led by a provincial governor elected by the people through representative democracy must be applauded. It does not matter what the new structures are called, the effect is that people in charge of the provinces are no longer appointed by a skewed partisan system.

The new constitutional framework provides for people to take charge of their destiny.

Moyo is the director of policy and research in the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. He is also an aspiring MP for Bulawayo Central.

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