Zimbabwe: Chinamasa Says Devolution is Costly, Must Be Abolished

Photo: The Herald
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa presented Zimbabwe's 2018 Budget.
9 December 2017

Devolution activists from Matabeleland have reacted angrily to calls for the scraping of the constitutional provision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government.

Presenting the 2018 National Budget statement in Harare on Thursday, minister Chinamasa called on parliamentarians to scrap the provision from the supreme law as it was a burden to the fiscus.

"Funding of the Provincial and Metropolitan structures, as set out in Chapter 14, Section 264 of the Constitution, is not sustainable and Political Parties represented in Parliament should in the future give consideration to amending the Constitution to lessen the burden on the fiscus," said the minister of finance.

Chinamasa's remarks would have surprised many as failure to implement devolution was one of the accusations that Zanu PF levelled against their former leader, President Robert Mugabe.

The Zanu PF government is still to implement devolution by ensuring metropolitan and provincial councils are formed in line with Chapter 14 of the constitution.

If implemented, communities will manage their own affairs and use local resources to foster development in those provinces.

Activists who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said Mnangagwa was now showing his true colours after sweeping into power a fortnight ago.

"This is Zanu PF remaining Zanu PF, with or without Mugabe. They retain their arrogance to the constitution and people's demands. Chinamasa all of a sudden has forgotten that they wanted to impeach Mugabe on November 21 on the basis that he failed to implement devolution of power.

"Today, barely a fortnight later he makes reckless suggestions to scrap the same provision from the constitution. What hypocrisy from a selfish and self-centred Zanu PF hardliner who is only worried about power at the expense of the country," said Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa.

The Dumiso Dabengwa led party campaigned vigorously for the inclusion of devolution of power in the constitution.

Ibhetshu LikaZulu Secretary General Mbuso Fuzwayo said the scrapping of devolution of power provision would be going against the people's wishes.

"It came from the people and not the party (Zanu PF), so it will be abusing people's rights. They must implement devolution and not repeal it. There are statutes such as AIPPA and POSA that they can repeal.

"Chinamasa must not reverse the people's struggle and Zanu PF must implement all the provisions in the constitution," he demanded.

Another activist, Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo said Mnangagwa has always been against devolution of power and now that he has ascended to power, he has found an opportunity to get rid of it.

"In 2014, Mnangagwa told Parliament that devolution of power was unsustainable and would strain government coffers. He now has the opportunity to do away with devolution since he is now the president.

"It high time that we rise up and fight for the implementation of devolution of power and we must ensure we do not vote for people who will go against people's wishes. There is no way the country can develop when we have people who want to violate the constitution," he charged.

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said Chinamasa's remarks were in bad taste.

"During the constitution making exercise the last deadlock was on the devolution clauses, which deadlock was eventually broken at the State House when Zanu PF had no choice but to concede that more than 3 million people had spoken and chosen devolution during the 2013 referendum.

"Trying to revise the devolution clauses is a matter of bad faith, bad taste and clearly unacceptable. Mugabe wilfully violated the constitution, Mnangagwa has done the same by appointing Ministers of state instead of provincial councillors. To now suggest that there should be an amendment to the constitution is adding salt to injury and totally unacceptable," he said.

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