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Groups hail devolution gains

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BULAWAYO-BASED civil society organisations yesterday said the inclusion of devolution of power in the draft constitution is the right step in promoting development in the country.

Report by Blondie Ndebele

But the groups maintain that the provision that will see the introduction of provincial councils fell short of their expectations.
The Copac draft that is now being debated in Parliament provides for the “transfer of responsibilities and resources from the national government”.

It says this is “in order to establish a sound financial base for each provincial and metropolitan council and local authority”.
Matabeleland Civil Society Forum spokesman Dumisani Nkomo said the constitutional provisions must be the springboard for far-reaching reforms.

“Now we will build on what is there and we need to have Acts of Parliament that will support it and clarify issues on the powers of local authorities,” he said.

Zimbabwe Christian Alliance director Useni Sibanda said there was need for clarity especially on the envisaged operation of local authorities.

“We are happy that devolution has been recognised,” he said.
“That is quite a good development and that is what Zimbabweans have been waiting for.

“The constitution should explain how powers will be transferred to the local authorities.”

Bulawayo Agenda director Thabani Nyoni said there was a danger of the clause being misconstrued if it was not clarified.
“In Zimbabwe things have to be clear otherwise they will be interpreted wrongly,” he said.

“The local authorities are indirectly accountable to the province.
“At least the constitution recognises the need for a devolved system of governance, but we want more.”

Zanu PF had opposed devolution of power during the constitution-making process claiming it would divide the country on ethnic lines.
The MDC formations vigorously campaigned for devolution in the draft and have maintained that the provisions represented some gains.

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