Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
LOCAL authorities have started setting up structures to start the process of devolution, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, recently allocated $310 million in the 2019 National Budget for devolution.
Speaking in Bulawayo on Thursday, Local Government, Public Words and National Housing Minister July Moyo said Government is working on modalities on how to allocate the $310 million to provincial councils.
“All local authorities are already geared up for devolution, there is not much that we can change to align with the Constitution because it is already there,” said Minister Moyo.
“We are going through the motions of circulating an amendment to the Provincial Councils Act and Administration Act. These acts will merge metropolitan councils with provincial councils for smooth administration,” said the Minister.
“The $310 million budget will go to all local authorities and provincial councils so that they can start working on devolution. This devolution programme is based on the fact that economic development must start from the bottom going up.”
Minister Moyo said central Government would assist local authorities to grow their economies which would in turn develop a balanced Zimbabwean economy.
He said Government is also addressing issues to do with health, education and infrastructure development.
“In fulfilment of Section 301 Sub Section 2d of the Constitution, we are closely working on addressing marginalisation. We are looking at marginalisation in health, education, roads, in electricity and all infrastructure projects,” said Minister Moyo.
“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will guide us on how to allocate monies so that those who have lagged behind can be uplifted.”
Implementation of devolution enjoins central Government to release funds for provincial budgets to ensure that areas lagging behind in terms of development are prioritised.
Under a devolved state, each province will have its own economic development plan underpinned by resources found in that province. Economic plans will be crafted by provincial councils led by provincial ministers, whose role should also be development-oriented.
In his 2019 National Budget presentation last month, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said the allocation of funds for devolution seeks to operationalise support to provinces in terms of Section 264 of the Constitution.
“An estimated US$310 million in fiscal transfers is earmarked for support to Provincial Councils for 2019. As spelt out in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, decentralisation is a key strategy for fair and just governance.
“All provinces should be able to plan and implement their economic growth and development using their factor endowments, with Central Government contributing through the 5 percent allocation annually,” said Prof Ncube. — @thamamoe