President stung on devolution

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President Robert Mugabe’s stance on devolution of power is at variance with what Zimbabweans said they want to see in the new constitution, the three governing parties have revealed.

Mugabe last week said he did not want to divide the country “into small pieces” through devolution.
But according to the Constitution Select Committee (Copac), devolution is one of the 26 principles forming the foundation of the proposed new draft of the supreme law.

Copac, in a statement jointly signed by its co-chairpersons Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF), Edward Mkhosi (MDC) and Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T), said people’s views would not be ignored in the process.

Among the 26 principles, Copac said it sought to recognise decentralisation, devolution and that the power to rule and govern must be derived from the authority of the people.

“The people’s views collected during outreach formed the basis for the discussion around the proposed new draft,” the statement, published in national newspapers yesterday, read in part.

“These views were collected during outreach and are contained in the national report, which is still under construction as it is about the whole process.

“It is from this report that the two important draft
foundational documents, one of constitutional issues and the other of constitutional principles, were derived.”

Mugabe’s remarks during one of the interviews
conducted by the State media ahead of his 88th birthday last month torched a storm in Matabeleland where civil society has threatened to campaign against a constitution that does not guarantee devolution.

He claimed the concept was for bigger countries not Zimbabwe.

“We once had this, under the Federation which included Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi),” Mugabe said.

“Some are talking about separating the Matabeleland region to become a country; that is impossible, we don’t want that.”

Devolution is described as a statutory granting of powers from the central government to a regional level. It can involve granting regions autonomy to administer their own budgets and make relevant legislation but with the supreme authority vested in the central government.

Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo has also written a paper where he vigorously argues against devolution of power.

Chombo, in an address to the Chiefs’ Council annual conference in Bulawayo last week, claimed devolution would cause “ethnic strife”.

“Devolution limits central government’s oversight and increases inter-regional conflict, particularly in the re-allocation of resources between regions precipitating demands in resource-rich regions for separation,” he said.

Calls for devolution were prominent in provinces such as Matabeleland, Midlands and Manicaland during the outreach programme on the constitution- making process.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube this week wrote on the micro blogging site Twitter that “Zanu PF’s strong opposition to devolution is not surprising, as they have been looting the national resources and unequally developing provinces”.

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