Gweru (New Ziana) – Metropolitan and provincial councils will be operationalised shortly as part of government efforts to devolve governance in the country, a senior government official has said.
Speaking during the 2019 Capacitating Local Leaders Workshop in Gweru, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Jennifer Mhlanga said devolution was top priority for the government.
“Provincial and Metropolitan councils, which are the second tier of government, will soon be operational in compliance with Chapter 14 of the constitution and will complete the establishment of the governance system in the country.
“Chairpersons and mayors of local authorities are members of provincial and metropolitan councils. As such, we expect them to be the voice of local and social development,” she said.
Mhlanga said $46 million had already been disbursed to all local authorities in the country in terms of section 301 of the constitution. “We expect more funds to be disbursed further in the immediate term,” she said.
Mhlanga said the fact that President Emmerson Mnangangwa chairs the cabinet committee on devolution is indicative of his commitment to deliver on devolution in line with the dictates of the constitution.
She applauded the Midlands State University for establishing a Centre for Devolved Governance in support of the government’s devolution agenda.
Midlands provincial coordinator Abiot Maronge said the government’s thrust is that devolution should stimulate economic transformation with provincial councils, metropolitan councils and local authorities as its drivers.
“Devolution is meant to empower and benefit the citizenry of Zimbabwe and when fiscal transfers are made authorities must ask how they have used it,” he said.
“Local authorities must become hubs for transformation of local economies leveraged on comparative advantages.
“Local authorities are now expected to take charge of their local economies to the extent that they will be required to account for their gross domestic product in the near future.”
The capacitating local leaders programme is in its fifth year and has since taken on board all 92 local authorities in the country.
The programme has been supported by the Embassy of Sweden, International Centre for Local Democracy, GenderLinks and MSU.