MDC calls for devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities

Section 264 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe calls for the devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities. Whenever appropriate, governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities which are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively.

MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai

MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai

The Constitution of Zimbabwe became operational in May, 2013 but almost three (3) years afterwards, the Zanu PF government has not yet activated the system of devolution in accordance with the constitutional dictates.

The MDC is deeply concerned with the Zanu PF regime’s reluctance to adopt the system of devolution as prescribed by the Constitution. One of the main objectives of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities is to give powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them.

Essentially, therefore, local communities have been constitutionally empowered to manage their own affairs and to further their development. This is also meant to ensure the equitable sharing of local and national resources. Against the background of the Zanu PF regime’s failure and/or refusal  to adopt the principle of devolution, we have witnessed that the people of Chiadzwa and Marange in Manicaland province  have completely failed to benefit from the God-given diamond reserves that are found on their ancestral land.

It is tragic that alluvial diamonds worth billions of United States dollars have been extracted from the Marange diamond fields over the past seven or eight years but the local communities have nothing to show for all this wealth that has been taken away from their homeland. Thousands of villagers in Marange are still living in abject poverty despite the fact that diamonds were being mined in their own backyard. No clinics, hospitals and other social amenities were constructed by the diamond companies that have been operating in the Marange communal lands. As if this is not enough exploitation, the people of Marange are also bitterly complaining that the Odzi river has been polluted through the dumping of toxic waste by these diamond mining companies.The million dollar question, therefore, is, ’’who has actually benefitted from the diamond mining in Marange?’’

Local communities adjacent to the Hwange National Park as well as the Victoria Falls in Matebeleland North province have hardly benefitted from the natural resources in their localities. The same predicament is facing local people in Binga communal lands in the same province. Poverty and destitution are the order of day for local communities living adjacent to the Matusadonha National Park in the Mola communal lands near Lake Kariba in Mashonaland West province. Thus, the MDC calls upon the Zanu PF government to urgently enact an appropriate Provincial Councils Act in terms of Section 268 of the Constitution as well as to align both the Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act with the provisions of the Constitution. For instance, there is absolutely no good reason why metropolitan councils have still not been created in Harare and Bulawayo; almost thee (3) years after the harmonised elections that were held on July 31, 2013.

The Zanu PF regime’s reluctance to provide for devolution is very well documented. Members of Provincial councils have still not been sworn into office. Surely, there is not much money that is needed by the government to simply swear into office provincial councillors who were elected into office on the basis of the results of the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections.

The MDC is hugely disappointed by the Zanu PF regime’s deliberate efforts to frustrate and sabotage the concept of devolution that is provided for in the Constitution. We call upon parliamentarians, across the political divide, to put their heads together and ensure that the Constitution of the country is not only obeyed but is also seen to be obeyed. Respect for  the principle of constitutionalism is the very bedrock of any modern developmental democracy. Put alternatively, the economy of Zimbabwe cannot substantially grow when we have a government that pays lip service to constitutionalism.

Both domestic and foreign investors are not keen to put their money into an economy where the government of the day is stubbornly refusing to fully operationalize all the key tenets of the supreme law of the land

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