By Simbarashe Fenton M
Churches have been urged to engage and promote the devolution process in the community, this publication can reveal.
Addressing church leaders during a meeting organized by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD), at Shingai Training Centre in Gokwe, ZHOCD Projects Officer-Midlands Philemon Handinahama Hwami called on all church leaders to uplift the gospel of devolution processes in the community..
“The main objectives why we are here involves issues of citizen participation in development initiatives, to create a platform of networking between the church, community members, government ministries and departments as well as to strengthen the level of participation of key community groups (youths, women and persons with disabilities) in activities aimed at improving their livelihoods…as the church we have an important role of promoting these ideas,” said Hwami.
The idea of devolution recites and relates to proper instrument(s) that addresses peoples challenges at the lowest levels, this can be addressed by pitting intellectual, human and monitory resources in order to address issues in their situational levels of demand.
The Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment (No.20) Act 2013 provides the framework for devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities in Section 264. Sub-section 1 states that, “wherever appropriate, governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities to carry out these responsibilities efficiently and effectively.” Thus, the implementation of these Constitutional provisions will inevitably introduce new demands for institutional capacities, skills and competencies to enhance transparency and accountability at the different tiers of government.
The devolution concept comes in to empower the majority to take heed and contribute to their own development.
“There has been changes and development as far as devolution is concerned. We have a good example where people here in Gokwe had a borehole placed at a place of their interest, people exercised their rights, right now there is irrigation in ward 32…through these workshops people are now aware of their rights and responsibilities.
“People used to have doubts over this project when we started it in 2020, so far there has been changes and good responses on the platforms we have been creating more. We urge individuals with their different parties, beliefs and opinions to come together for a common cause…definitely by 2030 devolution practice will be a success story,” said Bishop Munengiwa ZHOCD Midlands Provincial coordinator.
The institutional framework for devolution mainly involves the three tiers of government namely the central government, the Provincial and Metropolitan Councils and the local authorities, as provided for in Section 5 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Part of the Central government’s responsibility will be to provide the socio-economic policy direction for the country and to disburse requisite financing to lower tiers of government. Section 270 (I) of the constitution requires Provincial and Metropolitan Councils to undertake socio-economic development for their respective provinces. Local authorities as defined in Sections 273 and 275 of the constitution have the responsibility of representing and managing the affairs of the people.
The idea of devolution should not be a mere political rhetoric, rather it should go beyond disbursement of funds for projects. The top to bottom approach should be a thing of the past into a more reciprocal process which enable citizens to have a share on the national coffers. Hence there is need for social cohesion among the community to achieve the goals of Vision 2030.
ZHOCD has appealed for continued information dissemination on the devolution concept by the government Ministries and departments, to enable ordinary Zimbabweans to understand it’s purpose and how it works. This will help them in making well informed decisions, be able to exercise their rights and to realise their limitations thereby promoting better society.
Meanwhile the government has disbursed about RTGS$1 billion dollars to fund various developmental and infrastructural projects such as construction of bridges, rehabilitation of roads and construction of hospitals, clinics, among other projects in the country.
Different church denominations such as Roman Catholic, Johanne Masowe eChishanu, AFM, ZAOGA FIF, ZCC among others attended the training. Church leaders have a role to play in informing and educating their followers on the developmental initiatives enshrined in the devolution process.