Govt urged to revise Devolution Funds

Govt urged to revise Devolution Funds
Prof Ncube presenting the 2020 national budget

Madziwa (New Ziana) –The Zimbabwe government should allocate local authorities additional Devolution Funds to enable them complete projects which they had planned as suppliers increased prices of materials during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, an official has said.

Chaminuka Rural District Council ward 27 councilor alderman Green Bhuka said this, adding prices of some of the materials had more than doubled during the lockdown period, which the government declared on March 30 as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bhuka also urged development partners to come to the rescue to enable councils finish targeted projects.

“We have the money but it can no longer buy all the materials we want to complete the projects. It is the same with labor costs. Contractors are now demanding payment in United States dollars,” he said.

“We appeal to Treasury to review upwards Devolution Funds amounts for each province,” he added.

The government set aside $2.93 billion set aside for devolution in the 2020 National Budget to be shared among the ten provinces.

Devolution had started bearing fruit before the outbreak of COVID-19, with the implementation of an assortment of projects, from dams, roads and clinics to schools and police bases, among others, transforming the countryside.

To drive the projects, the government will set up provincial councils before the end of the year following the recent gazetting of the Constitutional Amendment Bill which spells out their functions.

The provincial and metropolitan councils will consist of a chairperson, mayor or the chairperson of a local authority and 10 persons elected by a system of proportional representation during the 2018 elections to ensure efficient coordination and monitoring of developmental projects.

Ward 26 councilor Bigboy Kufinya supported Bhuka, saying if councils had bought some of the materials for the planned projects before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, they would have completed the projects.

Chaminuka RDC, which is in Mashonaland Central province, had sunk 13 boreholes and managed to rehabilitate 48 others in 16 wards since the beginning of the year through the Devolution Funds.

“We had also started constructing the Matanda Rural Health Centre in ward 27 which was at window level by the time the country went into lockdown,” said Kufinyu.

“We had also paid for a refuse compactor that we are waiting to be delivered. It will be used to collect refuse in Shamva Township,” he added.

The RDC had planned to buy a grader for road maintenance, rehabilitation and widening.

It had also planned to construct three other clinics as well as build more classroom blocks within farming communities.

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