Monday, May 13, 2019

Devolution: ED takes Chairmanship

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President Mnangagwa has become the first President in the history of the country to assume the chairmanship of two Cabinet committees - Finance and Economic Affairs and Devolution - because he wants to pay more attention to the two sectors that are close to his heart, a Cabinet Minister revealed last week.

Addressing the Mashonaland West Devolution and Business Conference in Chinhoyi on Friday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said President Mnangagwa re-organised Cabinet so that he can drive the devolution concept. He said under devolution, Government is this year fighting marginalisation and pushing development in marginalised communities.

"The former President (Robert Mugabe) only chaired the Cabinet committee on Finance and Economic Affairs," said Minister Moyo.

He said President Mnangagwa was paying particular attention to finance and economic matters and devolution that were very close to his heart.

"That is how much attention he wants to put to devolution and because of that, all of us are in trepidation about whether we will be able to deliver on devolution," he said. Minister Moyo said Government would this year want to attack marginalisation.

"If you are in Kariba, Nyaminyami, we know the number of schools that are lacking there. We also know the number of clinics that are lacking there. Put the money you were given under devolution to good use so that you can uplift the education system, the health system in your districts," he said.

Devolution, Minister Moyo said, cannot be talked about without decentralisation.

"De-centralisation has two parts, the first part is de-concentration or decongestion, it means if all of us are all in Harare, all civil servants in Harare, and you don't de-congest or de-concentrate, your service delivery will be limited," he said.

Minister Moyo said devolution is provided for in the country's Constitution and in subsidiary laws such as the Rural District Councils Act and the Urban Councils Act.

"That shows you that now we are devolving because it's constitutional," he said.

Councils, through devolution, he said, had been empowered to collect taxes in any mineral or land within their jurisdiction.

"Any property that is in Zimbabwe must be taxed by the local authorities. Those powers are in the constitution as well as elaborated in subsidiary legislation called Rural District Council Act. If you do not tax them, we will not develop Mashonaland West, but if we are taxing and it is helping us then we must be glad to be taxed."

Minister Moyo said the constitution has also enabled provinces and districts to create their own GDPs.

"If I ask what the GDP for Mashonaland West is, we don't know, people know the national GDP, we know that before re-basing, our GDP was US$17,99 billion and with rebasing we are at US$23 billion.

"We want to quantify the GDP of Mashonaland West. We need to create an environment for investors, for the private sector to take their rightful place.

"Government, local authorities and provincial councils, must invest in infrastructure," he said.

In welcoming delegates to the conference, Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka called on all stakeholders to work together in developing the province.

"Thus, it is imperative that we all have to take out ploughs into the land? Suffice to say, we need to have a paradigm shift. In Government, we need to dust off the civil servants' 'slow, lazy and ineffective' tag that the people label us," she said.