Con-Court challenge over devolution

Published: 06 February 2018
Legislators have upped pressure against the Executive's plans to scrap a constitutional provision that devolves power to provinces, and are mulling taking the case to the Constitutional Court.

In his 2018 National Budget, Finance and Economic Planning minister Patrick Chinamasa, picture below, asked the National Assembly to consider doing away with the clause, arguing that it has created a heavy burden on the fiscus.

Chapter 14 of the National Charter provides for the creation of eight provincial councils with 10 councillors each envisaged to be elected through proportional representation.

It further creates two metropolitan provincial councils in Harare and Bulawayo to be chaired by the mayors of these respective cities.

Harare East MDC legislator Jessie Majome said: "It is a scandal that five years after the Constitution was enacted, we do not have provincial and metropolitan councils.

"That excuse of having no money is now outdated. In the parliamentary Justice committee where I sit, we have been lobbying for this and are currently drafting ideas on how best to get them created."

Glen Norah MP Webster Mawondera said government has over the years not disbursed its constitutionally stipulated five percent of budget allocations to local authorities.

"There is an obvious fear by government that if they give that five percent to councils which are mostly run by the MDC, they will provide services and get all the credit — much to the detriment of Zanu-PF.

"Government is simply afraid of giving the MDC power either through devolution or the five percent," Mawondera said.

Chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Local Government and Zanu-PF Hwedza South legislator Michael Madanha said decision-making was still centralised at the parent ministry and not at councils.

"The committee also observed that there is still centralisation of power within the ministry which is against the requirements of chapter 14 of the Constitution which calls for devolution of power to local authorities and provincial councils.

"The Committee continues to categorically make it clear that Section 301 (1) is self-explanatory and should be implemented," Madanha said.

In his budget statement, Chinamasa said government face a critical funding shortfall to bankroll devolution.

"Funding of the Provincial and Metropolitan structures, as set out in Chapter 14, Section 264 of the Constitution, is not sustainable and political parties represented in Parliament should in the future give consideration to amending the Constitution to lessen the burden on the fiscus," Chinamasa said.
- dailynews
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