18 April 2019

Zimbabwe: Independence Day Statement

Photo: The Herald
Thousands of Zimbabweans have made way into National Sports Stadium for the country’s 39th Independence Celebrations.
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Platform for Youth Development Trust (PYD) joins the rest of the nation in celebrating 39 years of independence. As a community-based organization that is grounded and socially embedded, we are compelled to use this day to appeal to Zimbabweans and mostly the young people to put pressure on the government to open up spaces and opportunities where it becomes possible for Zimbabweans to enjoy the benefits of the freedom brought about by independence.

Zimbabwe is celebrating majority rule after having gone through the agony of a white minority rule that was predominantly racist and brutal. The majority came through a protracted war of liberation that had so many phases of struggle. This year's Independence Day is being celebrated under the theme; "Zimbabwe at 39, embracing devolution for vision 2030."

PYD notes with great interest the 2019 Independence Day theme as it resonates well with section 264 of the Zimbabwean Constitution Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013. Through this section, the local authorities will have legal status that it lacked in the erstwhile centralized system due to the fact that it is now governed through a Constitutional provision as opposed to a mere statute.

PYD is in support of devolution as it gives greater attention to rural communities' participation in socio - economic policy formulation and implementation. At the same time, it allows the local authorities to promote transparency and accountability in governance and decision-making as well as management of local resources.

However, PYD bemoans the fact that real power is still to be transferred to local authorities, despite the fact that the aims of local authorities are to create participatory and democratically elected structures that identify need and ensure provision of services.

Thus, local authorities were never an independent sphere of community development as they constantly face administrative, political controls and oversight by central government. Again, they were being used as a way to entrench Zanu PF's hegemony and enhanced politicians' stranglehold over the local communities. This rendered local authorities ineffective since their operations were not supported by the constitution for them to operate independently. This made Zimbabweans to experience nominal decentralization and token participatory exercises by ordinary people in which their contribution was overplayed by the partisan interests of the ruling party.

PYD believes that it will be progressive if this anomaly is addressed as the nation embraces devolution.

As a community - based organization, PYD welcomes the statements spoken by President Mnangagwa with a pinch of salt where he has promised to defend Zimbabwe as a constitutional democracy that will respect the provisions on devolution. We are hoping that the current government will walk the talk and see it feasible to have the real transfer of administrative, political and fiscal powers to the local authorities for devolution to have a transformational effect on our rural communities.

PYD urges President E. D Mnangwagwa and his administration to come up with clear time-frames in the implementation of section 264, as the lack of time-frames heavily undermines the provision on devolution.

As an acknowledgement on the importance of the Independence Day, the Platform for Youth Development will partner the church fraternity for a cleanup campaign and prayer meeting in Checheche.The cleanup campaign and prayer meeting will help to express our solidarity with the victims of Cyclone Idai that ravaged villagers in Zimbabwe mostly in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts. This will be our opportunity to remind our young people the values and ethos of independence as well as the importance of decentralization of administrative and economic power.

Source: Platform for Youth Development Trust (PYD)

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