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‘Devolution no longer debatable’

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Agitators for devolution of power in the new constitution on Friday argued that the debate on the need for the “strongest form of decentralisation” was no longer necessary as Zimbabweans now had to debate the kind of devolution they desire.

Speaking at the Southern Star Critical Thinking Forum, the national Association for Non Governmental Organisations (Nango)’s Western Region chairperson Godwin Phiri said over six provinces were clear on their desire for devolution and that closed the debate on whether or not Zimbabwe should adopt it as a system of governance.

“As Zimbabweans, we must respect the feelings and the sovereignty of the people over the President’s wishes. A lot of work has been done around devolution of power. Some of our colleagues, the people we started with on this, are now late. A lot of work has been done to the extent that, by Copac’s admission, six provinces were very clear on devolution of power.

“The question now is no longer: ‘Do we want devolution of power?’ but ‘What kind of devolution do we want?’” Phiri said.

“What has been parked is the nature of devolution. I hear there are two proposals. Our role as civil society and the political parties that ascribe to devolution is to come up with clear models of the devolution we want.”

President Robert Mugabe and the minister of local government Ignatius Chombo have indicated that they are opposed to devolution of power as they believed it would divide Zimbabweans into little fiefdoms grounded on ethnicity.

MDC Bulawayo spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said his party wanted devolution of power where the provincial government was elected directly by the people in an open election.

“As the MDC, we want a provincial government with an elected governor or premier. We don’t want a governor like the ones we have now who when they talk about money from the central government, they are talking about their salary only. We want a governor with a budget,” he said.

Zapu national spokesperson, Methuseli Moyo said those opposed to devolution were deliberately doing so to protect their interests. “If devolution of power is not implemented, all of us in this room will automatically become secessionists. Devolution of power is a compromise,” he said.

In an interview with NewsDay on Friday, the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (Puma) president Bancinyane Ndiweni also said devolution of power was a compromise.

“For us, devolution of power is a compromise that we came up with long back, but a lot of people did not understand us then. We are happy that nearly the whole of Zimbabwe has seen the light,” he said.

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