FOLLOWING its adoption in the 2013 Constitution, the devolution of power and responsibilities to lower tiers of Government has been gathering momentum.
The country’s Constitution seeks to organise Government at the national, provincial and local levels. Devolution is a necessary vehicle for deepening democracy, promoting locally driven development and improving the delivery of public services.
This is bearing many fruits as local authorities have been working on social amenities for the benefit of locals.
So far, close to $125 million has been allocated to the province under devolution funds. Manicaland has utilised 86 percent of those funds in the construction of schools, clinics, roads and other social amenities.
Zimbabwe’s devolution programme is largely founded on the principle of empowering local authorities to spearhead economic and social development projects in their areas by leveraging on local resources.
The emphasis is on economic development, not political power; with the acknowledgement of the fact that no one knows the local communities’ needs more than the locals themselves.
The equitable allocation of national resources and the participation of local communities in the determination of development priorities within their areas is indeed the tonic in fast-tracking development as Zimbabwe gallops towards achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030.
Archaic and malfunctioning infrastructure simply has to go as it does not resonate with the country’s 2030 projections. Therefore now is the time to build the Zimbabwe that we all want.
However, with Treasury releasing millions of dollars to the lower tiers of Government, this entails the development and tracking of economic activities at district and provincial levels; hence the need to develop and monitor Gross Domestic Product statistics at those levels.
There is also need to promote accountability and guard against abuse of public funds. In 2019 and at national level, Government allocated $703 million towards devolution projects that saw roads, clinics and schools being renovated, while new ones were constructed.
This year, the figure has been revised to $2,9 billion. Strict measures have been put in place to guard against abuse of these funds.
For Manicaland, results are starting to emerge for everyone to see. Mutare’s Sakubva Urban Renewal Project, for example, has been identified amongst pacesetters in the country’s devolution agenda.
The project, which seeks to upgrade Mutare into a smart city in line with Vision 2030, will see the demolition of Sakubva’s dilapidated houses and the modernisation of the old and run-down suburb through the construction of high rise flats for the benefit of the province’s growing population.
The Sakubva Flea Market, Sakubva Bus Terminus, Sakubva Stadium, Sakubva Beithall and Sakubva Vegetable Market will also be revamped.
In Makoni District, thousands of villagers are set to benefit from a state-of-the-art Nzvimbe Clinic that was constructed by the Rural District Council using devolution funds to the tune of $6 million.
The cherries on the already yummy cake are the employment opportunities that the devolution projects are creating for the people of Manicaland. Already, some locals have been employed to work on the respective projects. More are expected to get employment as the projects intensify.
In all these projects, there is great need for strong interface between central and the lower tiers of Government. When this holistic approach is adopted, it promotes accountability and urgency in how projects are implemented.
But as the devolution juggernaut gathers momentum, there are projects that are calling for speedy implementation. Somewhere in this edition, we write about the Murambinda-Birchenough Bridge Road, whose progress is not satisfactory. The same applies to the Mutare-Nyanga Road, which requires urgent attention.
Now that the lower tiers of Government have been empowered to address their areas’ respective challenges, this is a chance for them to serve the people who put them in those offices.
Fix those roads, build those clinics, furnish those schools; and history will remember you for the good works you did under devolution.