By Wisdom Mumera
President Mnangagwa came into power with a lot of neutrals siding for him for the simple fact that they wanted Mugabe gone. Otherwise, he had done nothing himself to endear himself as a leader or visionary.
He was a beneficiary of the situation.
Since then he has done little to actually endear himself through his own actions or stamp his mark of statesmanship. The latest gaffe is the 27 Constitutional amendments his government has set its sights on implementing.
This is even before the bigger priority of alignment has been completed. The political motif of the whole move is the seeming need to keep power within easy reach and this is going against the trending idea of devolution which affects Councils.
In his words, President Mnangagwa promised that “when we finish the July 30 elections, when we win, the Second Republic will come into place. Under the Second Republic, each province will have its own economic planning programming from ward, to district to provinces; we initiate the provincial council as provided for by the constitution, run province by province in a devolved tower”.
In South Africa, power is devolved at the provincial and municipal level to 9 provinces and 278 municipalities.
Other African Constitutions recognising and affirming devolution include countries such as Uganda (1995), Nigeria (1999). South Africa (1996).
According to experts the rationale of devolving power to multiple levels of government is to primarily ensure that, citizens participate in decision-making through level governance structures, service delivery is accessible and the government is closer to the people.
This would work very well in Zimbabwe in order to address issues of disproportionate and uneven development, lack of citizen participation, deficiency bottom-up development and an absence of innovative service delivery.
Measures have already been taken towards this with Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube allocating US$310 million to facilitate the devolution of power to provincial councils following an outcry from marginalised communities.
Besides that nothing concrete has been put into place to give devolution life.
There is still a need for a legal framework that specifies what roles and responsibilities the different actors in local Government will play when devolution is eventually implemented.
However as with most things Zimbabwean it’s the practical side that will show how effective this move. At the moment it’s already not looking good.
The current administration, already in the grip of resurfacing factional fights and cartel frictions does not seem best placed to see through the devolution process in its entirety as this ‘sharing of power’ can be seen as strategically negative.
Politically the current government cannot push through the devolution agenda for the simple fact that it dovetails negatively into the temporal fights of their political party and in the case that they come through, the creations will be unrecognizable pantomimes of the envisaged reality.
Devolution and all the imports of central government limitations and citizen empowerment in governance is the very antithesis of what the current government needs in their present political configuration.
Currently, they need heavy control of what is happening anywhere and everywhere both for strategic personal and political reasons.
According to the Constitution, provincial and metropolitan councils are to be constituted by a combination of elected and appointed officials.
A total of 10 directly elected officials, all members of parliament, and the president of the council of chiefs and his deputy make up the provincial council in the 8 provinces.
The metropolitan council is constituted by all members of parliament, mayors, chairpersons, deputy mayors and deputy chairpersons in the province.
The Constitution requires provincial and metropolitan councils to undertake social-economic development in their respective provinces.
However, with the 2013 Constitution maintaining a unitary form of government, it means the central government remains the main centre of power, although it devolves some power to lower structures.
That very fact, seemingly innocuous as it may appear will be the loophole the current administration needs to safeguard its political ambitions against the citizen agendas of devolution.
As it has already shown by throwing to the wind all priority talk of alignment and choosing the politically convenient agenda of amendments, the ED government will follow the same self-serving pattern with devolution.
Anything untoward to their political ambitions will be stampeded out.