HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsVox pop: what do people think about devolution?

Vox pop: what do people think about devolution?

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People in Matabeleland regions and the Midlands province believe the constitution outreach process currently underway is a once-in-a-life time opportunity for them to lobby for devolution of power. They have vowed to make as much noise as is possible to be heard on that governance system, a survey has revealed.
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers by central government to local or regional administration.
However, in Harare as in other Mashonaland regions people expressed mixed reactions over the debate on devolution of power. The topic has generated as much national interest in the constitution-making process currently underway.
The much-talked about issue was described by others as “a divisive factor that would worsen the already fragile political landscape”.
Others described it as a necessary tool to arrest corruption in central government, and residents were enthusiastic about the issue. People from all walks of life told NewsDay some of their opinions and expectations.
Nicholas Nyathi, businessman, Bulawayo;
“Devolution of power simply means power to the people and money to the people. It is important so that resources in a certain locality benefit the people who live in that locality. They should be able to make their own decisions as a locality and not for decisions to be made for the people at some level.
“Devolving power also means that decision-making should be localised and not centralised. Currently, all decisions are done in Harare. If there is no decision done at that level, everything stops, which is unfortunate.”
Kholakele Ngwenya, travel agent director, Bulawayo;
“I am personally yearning for the devolution of power so that there is accountability of funds and resources. When resources are allocated, we do not know where they go to and how they are allocated. As someone running a small to medium scale enterprise, I am aware that some money was allocated to the industry but as it is, we do not even know when it will be given to us.
“I personally feel that there should be a border demarcating Matabeleland region from other provinces, so that we are given the responsibility of managing our resources and funds.”
James Hadebe, Nust, Bulawayo
“This issue that everything is done in Harare is extremely annoying. If one has a problem with their document, be it birth certificate, passport or national identity document, they are referred to Harare. Honestly, that is not normal. People should be able to access such important documents locally and even in the rural areas.”
Don, lecturer, Bulawayo;
“There are certain ingredients that need to go into devolution of power, such as looking at where the power is currently. It is in the President and is he willing to shed that power down to local level? We need leaders who are prepared to relinquish power to other people that is the only way that devolution of power can take place.
“We want power to be given to lower levels in any community. Local authorities should be given power to make decisions for people in their areas. Councillors should be given power to also make decisions, as they are elected by people. Power should also be given to representatives who are elected or chosen by the people.”
Alexander Rusero, Harare Polytechnic;
“Other provinces are well developed with resources from others and that has to stop. Provinces like Mashonaland West and East are better off than other provinces and the explanation is because there are political bigwigs from a certain political party who are taking resources to develop their areas obviously for political reasons.
“You find that resources are looted in one province, yet the resources are meant to benefit people from that region but other provinces benefit like we have the issue of Chiadzwa where local people continue to live in abject poverty while people from other provinces are benefitting from Chiadzwa diamonds.
“Devolution of power in such circumstances is better. Look at Chinhoyi for example, there is development because of people linked to certain political parties but if you go to other provinces, it’s taking ages to complete hospitals and other projects.
“In Mutare, there is not even one state university but the province boasts of diamonds and in such circumstances that is where one sees the importance of devolution as the resources will benefit local people.”
Wellington Gadzikwa, Mbare, Harare;
“Devolution of power may bring problems as there is a lot of suspicion on tribal lines. It can bring regionalism that can be detrimental to national development.
“What if some provinces get enough money while others lag behind? Devolution only works in countries that have the capacity and where ethnicity can be controlled but Zimbabwe is far from that.
“It is a noble idea but it leads to chaos and disorder in the country. What the country needs right now are proper measures of governance and that the government has to pay attention to the needs of different regions. Devolution of power with no resources does not make sense.”
While others were outspoken on the issue, a number of interviewed people expressed ignorance on the matter.
Grace Shirto, Harare
“I don’t believe in such a thing because Zimbabwe is one country and to me that concept is divisive. Zimbabwe does not have a surname and to say that people from Matabeleland should benefit from their resources.
“How about other people who do not have resources in their provinces? It kills our cause of being brothers and sisters as a people. What should end is corruption to ensure everyone benefits from the country’s natural resources.”
Brenda Makore, businesswoman, Harare;
“I have no idea what devolution is all about, maybe if you can help by explaining what this means.”

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