Local authorities to assume more responsibilities under Devolution -President Mnangagwa
Harare (New Ziana) – The government will scale up implementation of the devolution agenda so that local authorities assume broader responsibilities to ensure rapid transformation of the country from grassroot level, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday.
Under the devolution programme, local authorities are allocated funds by the central government, which they use according to the developmental needs of their jurisdictions.
The government has touted the programme as one key pillar of developing vibrant provincial economies and rural industries as it moves to attain an upper middle-income economy by 2030 and in fulfilment of the mantra, leaving no one and no place behind.
Addressing a local government conference in the capital, President Mnangagwa said the devolution and decentralisation agenda was also entrenching participatory democracy by ensuring that resources, powers and functions were given to communities at the grassroots level.
“In this regard, Local Authorities are indispensable partners which must provide timely programmes and projects to guarantee equitable development that leaves no one and no place behind. I therefore urge you, as stakeholders in this tier of government, to scale up your commitment to improving the quality of lives of the citizenry through the provision of quality services,” he said.
“It is urgent and important that we scale up the implementation of the devolution agenda. In doing so; local authorities are set to have added responsibilities. To facilitate a seamless transition to this broadened scope of your mandates, functions and duties, the government adopted a comprehensive Devolution and Decentralisation Policy that guides the process, while removing gaps and ambiguities.
“Under the new Policy, Local Authorities will be further capacitated to efficiently and effectively manage affairs within their jurisdictions. Riding on the Whole of Government and Society Approach, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, are directed to provide local authorities with the requisite support. This must-see greater collaboration and synergies which promote the ongoing rural development and industrialisation agenda.”
President Mnangagwa encouraged local authorities to prioritise the creation of conducive business operating environments within their jurisdictions.
He said on its part, the government would accelerate the alignment of outstanding Acts of Parliament to the Constitution, while ease of doing business reforms, and adoption of global best practices would help enhance the country’s attractiveness as an investment destination.
“The on-going reforms are also cognisant of the demands to strengthen the local government sector and empower citizens to fully participate in both the national and local level development initiatives,” he said.
“My government is aware of the need to reform the administrative model of the local government sector. To date, we have adopted a performance management system which has seen both council chairpersons and officials signing performance contracts. This is one of many strategies we are instituting to entrench accountable, responsive and transparent performance across the public sector.
“It is pleasing that some local authorities have engaged in Voluntary Local Reviews to foster values, policies and standards that help strengthen their capacity to execute their mandates and function.”
President Mnangagwa added; “On local governance financing, my government has actualised the Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfer System, and is progressively moving towards surpassing the 5 percent set target by 2030. Over and above this measure, as councils you must be proactive, innovative and embark on legal commercial ventures to broaden your revenue streams. These must leverage on the respective resource endowments within your communities as well as comparative advantages. More efforts must be made to attract productive investments at your local level.”
President Mnangagwa also commended some local authorities for the notable improvement in the manner in which they were running their affairs.
“However, some local authorities still hog the limelight for the wrong reasons. Greater efforts should be made to expunge corruption from within your rank and file, both at political and management levels. The law will continue to take its course without fear or favour against those found on the wrong side,” he said.