Debt and development lobby group the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) says decentralisation of powers from the central government to local authorities remains a myth as the government’s willingness to implement remains uncertain.
In a policy digest for July, ZIMCODD said the suspension of opposition local authority Mayors makes the authorities an attachment of Zanu PF.
“Devolution remains a myth in Zimbabwe as the government`s sincerity in implementing it remains questionable. Evidence emerging shows that, there is deliberate inaction on the formulation of the Devolution Act that is supposed to be the implementing driving force. The continuous interference of the government in the management and operations of Local Authorities particularly those led by the opposition undermines devolution efforts.
“The suspension of opposition Mayors and appointing acting Mayors from the ruling party makes Local Authorities an appendage of the ruling party. Lack of timely disbursement of devolution funds and directives of how the funds are to be used shows that Zimbabwe is far from attaining optimum devolution. To this end, the adoption of the above recommendations will help devolution to gain traction in Zimbabwe,” ZIMCODD noted.
The pressure group said Government interference had created a cover up independence which exposed its indisposition to implement the decentralisation drive.
“The continuous interference of the central government in the development affairs of Local Authorities undermines the concept of devolution as prescribed in the devolution policy and coupled with the derailment of national growth and development.
“The interference of the central government has created a smokescreen devolution autonomy and exposed government’s unwillingness to implement the devolution drive. It has also undermined public procurement as prescribed in the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23]. Procurement principles such as transparency and competitive bidding in tender processes are overlooked to advance the interest of individuals,” the pressure group said.
The coalition adds that “The suspension of Harare Mayor and other opposition councillors has always been the central government’s grand plan to interfere with the affairs of Local Authorities. This can be evidenced by the reign of July Moyo which brings reminiscence of the reign of Ignatius Chombo who was notorious for suspending opposition councillors. The same mandate which was sustained by Saviour Kasukuwere raises questions of government’s sincerity in implementing devolution.”
Zimbabwe’s devolution programme is largely founded on the principle of empowering provincial government councils to spearhead economic and social development projects in their areas by leveraging on local resources.