Devolution Test Case For ConCourt Judges

Harare, March 03, 2015 – Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court judges will on Wednesday preside over a test case in which Lobengula legislator and former cabinet Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo wants the government to implement the concept of devolution, which has been a sticking point between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and opposition parties.

Despite being one of most popular forms of governance preferred by Zimbabweans who participated in public outreach meetings during the constitution making exercise, the government has neglected to implement devolution.

Nkomo, the former Water Resources  Minister in the coalition government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is represented by Tendai Biti of Tendai Biti, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The former Minister who now belongs to the MDC Renewal party wants the Constitutional Court to order Cabinet to bring before Parliament a Bill that gives effect to devolution within 45 days of an order being granted.

The legislator argues that by refusing to cause the enactment of an Act of Parliament giving effect to Constitutional provisions catering for devolution, the government is failing the majority of Zimbabweans who asked for such a system of governance.

Nkomo argues that implementing devolution “is in fulfilment of the overwhelming submissions and requests that were made by the people of Zimbabwe during the Constitutional making exercise”.

During the outreach programme to collect public preferences on the new Constitution, the majority of people preferred devolution as a form of governance over the centralised system.

Nkomo argues that government should therefore have treated devolution “as a matter of urgency and rushed” to comply with the Constitution.

According to Nkomo “devolution is key and central in the part of the country which I come from and in the Constituency I represent.”

He argues that 45 days for government to cause the enactment of the necessary Act of Parliament were “extremely reasonable”. “The process is simple and can be expedited. The flurry of Bills which were approved by the 7th Parliament towards the end of its term, which included the Micro Finance Bill and the Money Laundering Legislation, were all fast tracked.”

Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Dr Ignatius Chombo is cited as the first respondent while Vice President and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is cited as the second respondent. The government of the Republic of Zimbabwe is cited as the third respondent.

President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and his ruling administration have for years rejected the concept of devolution which has been advocated for by opposition parties.