Zimbabwe: 'Law Needed to Unlock Devolution Logjam'

15 November 2019

THE 78th Urban Council Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) conference kicked off in Bulawayo Wednesday with devolution discussions taking centre stage.

Although Section 270 (2) of the Constitution provides for the establishment of provincial and metropolitan councils, the country's laws still need to be aligned with the new governance charter adopted after a referendum in 2013.

Addressing delegates at the conference, Secretary for Town Clerks Forum, Shangwa Mavesera said the absence of enabling legislation and policies is hampering efforts to implement devolution of power in line with the Constitution.

Mavesera, who is also Bundura Town Clerk, said unless a Devolution Act of Parliament is enacted as soon as possible, it will be difficult to implement the policy.

Speaking at the commissioning of Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses in Bulawayo last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said government has increased budgetary allocations to urban and rural councils under devolution.

"The absence of an enabling Act and policy guidelines continues to make it extremely difficult for the lower ties of government, namely provincial councils and urban councils, to effectively participate in the implementation of this constitutional provision," Mavesera said.

He said the absence of an Act of Parliament was making it difficult to understand the relationships between the proposed councils and provincial authorities.

Lack of legislation, Mavesera said, also hampers local authorities' preparedness to implement devolution.

"The level of preparedness is however hampered by the absence of an enabling Act and the realignment of the existing laws to the Constitution.

"That there is no Act ready on devolution is a setback. That a number of Acts have not been aligned with the Constitution, specifically pertaining to devolution is a setback," he said.

Mavesera also expressed concern over various players involved in the devolution matrix, a development which he said might create unnecessary duplication and conflict.

"We have several players in devolution implementation but we need to have consensus on the roles to be played by each partner. If we do not get consensus on the roles, we will not succeed because there will be duplication, waste of resources and conflict," he said.

The three-day event, which is being held under the theme, "Urban Local Authorities: Embracing Devolution Towards Attaining Vision 2030', is being attended by urban councillors, town clerks and the private sector, among other key stakeholders.

President Emmerson is expected to officially open the meeting on Friday.

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