By Zwelethu Zikhali
Victoria Falls, October 21, 2016 – LOCAL government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere has ruled out any immediate prospects by the Zanu PF led government to devolve power as enshrined in the national constitution insisting the process would be a further strain to the country’s struggling economy.
Kasukuwere was officiating at a Local Government Investment Conference (Logic) in Victoria Falls on Thursday.
The Zanu PF political commissar said the concept was “too expensive” to implement by central government.
He was responding to Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Martin Moyo who had asked why government was reluctant to speed up the process of aligning laws that facilitate decentralisation of power.
“Why are we delaying to decentralise power so that local authorities can have autonomy and run themselves because we are losing a lot of revenue due to bureaucracy,” quizzed Cllr Moyo, who is also Zimbabwe Local Government Association (Zilga) president.
In response, Kasukuwere said devolution of power should be adopted with caution.
“The kind of economy we are in can’t afford devolution especially with the number of MPs and councillors that will be there and would all require vehicles,” he said.
He said Government was aware of Constitutional obligation to devolve power.
In the build up to the Constitution in 2013, Matabeleland provinces. Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces advocated for devolution of power arguing that they were being sidelined and neglected by Central Government while their resources were being exploited.
“We are aware of the Constitution and we can proceed with devolution but with caution. There is huge devolution since councils are running their own affairs. Bulawayo manages itself, so is Harare. Yes there will be cases that require government intervention but you are in charge,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
The devolution of power has been an emotive issue especially among people from Matabeleland provinces who accuse the Robert Mugabe led government of neglecting the region in terms of development.
The local government conference was the first ever to combine Zilga, Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) and Association of Rural District Councils.
It sought to find strategies to encourage local investment so as to improve service delivery at a time when local authorities are singing the blues due to dwindling revenue base owing to tough economic situation.
The theme for the conference which ends Friday is: “Repositioning urban local authorities as agents for industrialisation, investment promotion and socio-economic development.”