Mnangagwa plots constitutional amendments on devolution

Mnangagwa plots constitutional amendments on devolution
Published: 14 December 2017 (323 Views)
ZIMBABWEANS should brace for more amendments to the country's Constitution after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week announced the need to further amend the charter to remove issues of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities.

The Constitution, which was enacted in 2013, has already been amended through Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 1 Act, which changed the procedure of appointment of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.

When the first amendment to the Constitution was effected, members of the public resisted, saying it was too early to patch the new charter with amendments.

"Funding of the provincial and metropolitan structures, as set out in Chapter 14, section 264 of the Constitution, is not sustainable and political parties represented in Parliament should in the future give consideration to amending the Constitution to lessen the burden on the fiscus," Chinamasa announced during the 2018 National Budget presentation in Parliament last week on Friday.

The section stipulates that government powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities must be devolved with the objectives of giving powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in making decisions that affect them.

The advantages of devolution of power would be to transfer responsibilities and resources from the national government to establish a sound financial base for each provincial and metropolitan council and local authority, and to give communities the right to manage their affairs and further their development.

Legal think-tank, Veritas said the government has all along been unconstitutionally appointing Provincial Affairs minister or governors at the cost of implementing devolution.

"Under the Constitution, there is no provision for the appointment of ministers for Provincial Affairs or provincial governors.

"Instead, the Constitution contains new provisions for the devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils, constituted by a province's MPs, the mayors and chairpersons of the province's local authorities and, in the case of the eight provincial councils, 10 persons elected to the council by a system of proportional representation as part of every general election. It is these councils, which should be responsible for provincial affairs."

Since 2013, when 10 provincial councillors were formally elected, government has failed to implement the constitutional provisions of devolution, but, instead, appointed Provincial Affairs ministers.

"In the meantime, those that are appointed as ministers of State for Provincial Affairs can only carry out whatever functions the President gives them, but only provided such functions are permitted by law," Veritas said.

Zapu deputy spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa said Chinamasa's decision to remove devolution from the Constitution smacks of hypocrisy.

"On November 21, 2017, Zanu PF legislators moved a Robert Mugabe impeachment motion in Parliament being led by their chief whip, Lovemore Matuke. Chief among the reasons for impeachment was Mugabe's failure to constitute provincial councils following the 2013 election victory," he said.

"Two weeks down the line, Chinamasa, a selfish and self-centred Zanu PF hardliner, calls for Parliament to scrap devolution from the Constitution, citing lack of funds. This is despite him not telling the nation how much exactly is needed to implement devolution."

Maphosa said Chinamasa and company were shooting themselves in the foot.

He said they would never enjoy that "illegitimate" rule as long as it wanted to continue disregarding the Constitution, especially the devolution clause.

MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi said Chinamasa was misleading Mnangagwa.

"It is people like Chinamasa known for misleading sitting Presidents like [Robert] Mugabe and Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa is repeating mistakes that were made by Mugabe during his era. Chinamasa is plotting a Mnangagwa ouster by suggesting a rewriting of the Constitution. They have an evil intention of abusing their two-thirds majority to alter the people's views.
The issue of provincial councils is a constitutional issue, not a Zanu PF issue. They have been violating the Constitution for some time," he said.

People's Democratic Party secretary-general, Gorden Moyo, a known proponent of devolution, said they were not surprised by Chinamasa's proposal.

"We have an illegitimate government, which came to power through a coup. Its obsession is power consolidation and power retention by all means necessary. Devolution is a democratic norm, which is never believed, practised or legislated by a military State. It is in the DNA of a military State like Zimbabwe to violate the Constitution, at the same time masquerading as liberators of the masses," he said.

ZPRA Veterans Association secretary-general, Petros Sibanda weighed in, saying the decision to remove devolution from the Constitution must come from the people and the Constitution must be respected.

MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said the Zanu PF government had never been keen on implementing devolution, even during Mugabe's reign.

"Zanu PF is basically a commandist and totalitarian political outfit that has always advocated for the so-called one-centre-of-power principle. Devolution is not at all expensive as long as the government has got the commitment to implement it. At any rate, devolution is provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and, as such, it cannot be done away with without amending the supreme law of the land."

- newsday

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