Govt has no will to implement devolution: CHRA

Govt has no will to implement devolution: CHRA
CHRA director Loreen Mupasiri

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) director Loreen Mupasiri said despite being provided for in the constitution, the government appears not to have the will to implement devolution.

The constitution which was passed in 2013 provides for devolution in Chapter 14.

However, there has not been anything concrete on the ground that speaks to the issue of devolution.

To make matters worse, the current government has been putting governance structures that go against the provision of the devolution clause.

In an interview on Tuesday-Talk, Mupasiri said the situation on the ground indicates that the government has no appetite to implement devolution.

“From what we have seen as residents of Harare there seen to be lack of political will to implement devolution. The constitution was passed in 2013 and we are here 7 years later nothing has been done even in terms of aligning of laws, it has taken so long.

“So what we have seen is that there hasn’t been much will on part of the central government to implement devolution.

“I am happy that the government from last year has been talking about devolution implementation but still we are also observing it closely to see if devolution will be implemented in line with the constitutional provisions,” she said.

Mupasiri added that residents are also worried that the government intends to amend the constitution before implementations.

“Already there is a concern on Constitution Amendment No. 2 which is already looking at amending some of the provisions of the constitution before it has even been implemented.

“So that raises a really big concern. We took so long to implement devolution and now when we are saying we are implementing devolution already we want to amend some sections of the constitution before they are implemented.

“This is where the concern of the residents is really, to say are we going to get the devolution that is prescribed by the constitution of Zimbabwe because that will to implement devolution as is provided for in the constitution is very low and that is a concern to us,” she said.

According to the CHRA director, the government sold itself out when with its Devolution and Decentralisation Policy.

She said the policy has some provisions which seek to enforce centralisation at the expense of devolution.

“If you look at the Devolution and Decentralisation Policy that was released by the government in August 2020, it has some provisions that raise questions in terms of whether devolution is going to be implemented in the spirit of the constitution because there is quite some bit of centralisation in the policy.

“For example, the policy says the implementation of devolution will be as a result of the cabinet decision. We are saying that we want to devolve powers and functions to lowers tiers of government but then you have the implementation of that particular structure as a result of a decision of the cabinet which is purely central government.

“That raises a concern and you find that the policy is not very clear in terms of how citizens are going to actively participate in devolution implementation.

“So these are some of the concerns that residents are raising to say that even though the government is saying now finally we want to implement this devolution but is the implementation process of the process going to be inclusive as it should be? This is the main question that residents have,” she said.

Speaking on the same issue, Local Governance Trust coordinator David Matumbike said it remains to be seen if devolution will be implemented to the letter and spirit of the constitution.

“Just as Loreen (Mupasiri) just alluded there are issues perhaps of political will may be the devolution that is in the constitution is not exactly what the current government had in mind.

“Remember that even the constitution itself there was a lot of back and forth in COPAC and there were so-called sticky issues and devolution was one such issue.

“So it was a compromise document to many extents so you see these contestations in some of the provisions of the constitution which then become a subject of interpretation as to which side do you interpret that particular provision in the constitution.

“And Loreen stated it very well to say that as government implements it may decide to stick to the letter and not the spirit. And it creates a conflict between the letter and the spirit so those contestations are quite evident in the provision of the constitution.