On 22 May 2013, a historic day in the lives of many citizens of our beloved nation and perhaps more significant in decades, our Constitution was signed into law.
Home grown by courageous Zimbabweans and endorsed by millions of citizens in the make or break 2013 People’s Vote.
Among the plethora of provisions in this precious national document include numerous provisions which provide for and emphatically propagate the need to embark on devolution of power.
Today marks the earnest genesis of Parliament business, coming from a eventful break.
It is therefore not only important but also in the national interest to bring devolution on Parliament’s agenda.
The implementation of devolution of power as provided for in Chapter 14 of our national charter is long overdue. Devolution has occupied the unwanted & frowned upon back seat in our national discourse, now is the time for it to take its rightful place in order for the people to enjoy the deliverables that come with such a mammoth national project.
What is devolution?
It is pivotal to give answers to such questions as they assist in better comprehension of matters at hand.
In the words of Chingwenya (2010:2) devolution is the transfer of administrative and political powers from central government to lower tiers of government. These tiers have decision making powers.
There is a distinction between decentralization and devolution . The former refers to changes in departmental structures while the latter refers to changes in allocation of authority (Kinnie 1990).
Provisions for Devolution of Power
As alluded earlier, Chapter 14 of our Constitution explicitly provides for devolution.
This is an important chapter as it is the defining chapter for this great national project, which if implemented effectively will transform our beloved nation from the current landscape of doubt to a beacon of hope.
Zimbabwe will become a jewel of Africa again!
The Transitional Stabilization Program also provides, in greater detail, the objective & specifics of devolution.
The TSP, simply put presents an implementation matrix of this project of the masses.
Whether such initiatives are effective or not, is the duty of citizens to debate in relevant forums and constructively improve, if need be.
The devolution debate has been going on for decades, it’s not a new phenomenon in the body politic of our Republic, suffice to say that the debate had taken a sabbatical in recent years.
The changes in November 2017 ushered in a governing leadership that was divorced from it’s past inclinations. It is for students of history to show the remarkable extent to which the pre November 2017 ZANU PF was an institution whose unparalleled discipleship to centralization of government power & apparent disdain against devolution was never in doubt.
The post November ZANU PF is singing from a different hymn book altogether,
Imagining ZANU PF making devolution of power its campaign hit was perhaps a fine madness pre 2017. Post 2017,it was a reality which even caught the traditional supporters of devolution in the alternative parties unaware and unprepared for a credible alternative policy proposition.
The alternative parties in Zimbabwe championed for & vigorously defended the need to implement devolution of power. Fanatics of political campaigns will vividly remember some political parties running a campaign under the banner, ‘Devolution is our Revolution ‘.
How these alternative parties have suddenly found the devolution discourse being on the megaphones of those who historically were opposed to it is a story for another day.
Such a great people’s project deserves seriousness.
The enabling legislation to the devolution provisions in the Constitution is yet to be tabled in Parliament. The snail pace and worrying secretive manner in which this process is being undertaken leaves a lot to be desired.
We live in a nation where, through a newspaper article and subsequent conference resolutions certain provisions of the devolution chapter seek to be amended, Before they are implemented. The loud silence from alternative parties on such suggestions is alarming.
If Brexit for the British is their uncharted territory, devolution of power is the same to Zimbabweans; Uncharted territory.
One is yet to hear about a Devolution Secretary from at least one of the plethora of alternative political parties Zimbabwe is endowed with.
If there is any, then at least alternative policy propositions to the suggestions to the impending constitutional amendment to the devolution chapter is overdue.
That is how effective alternative parties world over operate, they offer alternatives!
What happened to the good old cause dear alternative parties?
In this uncharted territory is the realistic achievement of an economic dividend that comes with devolution.
The Transitional Stabilization Program clearly articulates that each province and local authority will transform itself into an Investment & Economic Zone.
The pump price for the realization of the economic targets of each province will be in the hands of those who live in it.
Through focused economic growth each province will be open for business, this will open up the innovative ideas through enhanced citizen participation in the economic dispensation of their provinces.
We find our selves in the generation that will develop Regional Investment and Development Master Plans for their respective provinces.
It is an honor to be part of that generation. A generation of trail blazers who seek not where the path may lead but create their own and make their communities thrive once more.
Emphasis will be on domestic direct investment and of course foreign direct investment.
The provincial councils will face surmount able tasks to bring into existence legislation that create business friendly environments that attract the best there is in order to achieve the greater good.
Participatory governance over local development agendas is the way to go.
Life changing deal on the table!
It is possible to have value added minerals in our homeland and as a nation reach a point where we will have millionaires so many that we can not count them.
Equitable growth and rural transformation are the bank roller of such visions, which are attainable anyway.
Devolution will put a final nail of Harare-sation of Zimbabwe coffin and mark an end to the toxic oxygen that the bureaucratic red tape enjoys.
Talking about the economic dividend of devolution and leaving the democratic dividend behind will be a national disservice.
On what benchmarks should we place our devolution on?
Some say China, but why should we look to China when we have our fellow African brothers and sisters who have walked on this road before us,
Why not drink from their well of experience? Let us take the good and leave the bad.
Local communities will have more input on issues that affect them,thus actively participate in agenda setting and decision making.
Centralization of power gave birth to a rare breed of citizen, an unconcerned citizen in so far as policy making is concerned. Just do a survey of the Parliament’s public meetings on the bills before it, the attendance by citizens is nauseating; A national disgrace!
If decision making is brought closer to the people, we might experience a political miracle of the century and perhaps in our lifetime.
In Kenya, they created 47 County units at sub national level and devolution has created strong, powerful county governments. (Cornell 2016). Capacity building programs for our provincial councils is of paramount importance. Our Republic deserves the very best.
It is in the national interest for every citizen to fight the threats that devolution might pose.
Devolution does not, will not and will never mean secession. Secession is an unpalatable and unthinkable alternative, As a nation we should fight such spurious fear mongering that devolution means secession.
We are one people, united in our diversity by our national identity. Zimbabwe above all else!
In the words of Samora Machel,
“… As to what we want and how to get it our ideas are necessarily vague, they are born of practice, perfected by practice “
Let us drink from the well of courage, The well of tenacity, The well of wisdom as we embark on this momentous national people’s project…
The uncharted territory.
Let the great debate begin!
| Liberty Dube is a political scientist and can be contacted on 0771496256