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Biti backs devolution


Finance minister Tendai Biti has backed the campaign for devolution of power, saying the issue could no longer be ignored amid reports 62% of the population had raised the matter during the outreach programme of the constitution-making process.

Presenting his 2012 National Budget in Parliament last Thursday, Biti said people were now generally wary of centralised governance where all administrative processes were centred in Harare.

“Once again the sense of alienation and despondency remains high. There is a clear anti-Harare sentiment out there.

The feeling is that everything happens in Harare and that to be a true and participating citizen of Zimbabwe one must be domiciled in Harare. Everything is in Harare and Harare is everything,” Biti said.

“Furthermore, there is overwhelming self-evident frustration over the seemingly endless and ongoing political discord and disunity within our country.”

Recently, Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa told delegates at a meeting in Harare organised by think-tank Sapes that he believed devolution of power was the panacea to political and economic stability, adding reports from the constitution-making process indicated 62% of the population was in favour of devolution.

“62% advocated for devolution of power, that is why I got from those writing the constitution and it means they want to own and benefit from their resources.

Even in Manicaland people are complaining about the Marange diamonds being taken away from them and all marketing being done in Harare, not in Mutare. There is nothing in Mutare or any other part of Manicaland,” said Dabengwa.

Devolution is defined as the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a sub-national level, such as regional, local, or state level.

Said Biti: “Devolution of power empowers citizens, even those on the periphery, to be interested in the issues of government and governance. Currently, it is as if one has to come all the way to Harare to talk to the government because there is no government in the provinces.

Government offices manned by ‘outsider’ civil servants and an unelected and usually unpopular provincial governor are not the government.”

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