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  • First provincial Minister fires threatening shots at devolution
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    September 24, 2013

    View this article on the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition website

    Following the appointment of a new Cabinet by President Robert Mugabe, there has been much debate over the introduction of provincial ministers, as analysts feared the appointments could sabotage constitutional provisions for devolution, signalling democratic regression.

    Although devolution has been viewed as decentralization from Harare, it could be ironic that the first warning shots against devolution by a provincial minister against the local government structures could have been fired from within the city itself.

    Things came to a head this week when Harare Metropolitan Provincial Minister Miriam Chikukwa said the Movement for Democratic Change party led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) city council would have to implement the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) manifesto, sparking fears that she intended to interfere with the work of elected councillors.

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Spokesperson Thabani Nyoni said the Coalition had always found the criticism and suspicion against the backdoor appointments legitimate, and quickly pointed that unclear terms of reference could make the new cabinet officials “super ministers against devolution”, and to the confusion that the appointments have already caused.

    “No attempts have been made thus far to clarify what role Ministers of State responsible for provincial affairs will be doing,” he said. “In fact, we have seen directives from central government to local authorities to slash debts which, while may mean good, are actually undermining the principle and practice of devolved governance.”

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in its postulations soon after the July 31 election had warned that the worst case scenario following Zanu-PF’s return to power could be democratic regression, meaning reversal of the democratic strides made during the Inclusive Government some of which are in the new Constitution such as devolution.

    Michael Mabwe, the Secretary of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), said apart from sabotaging devolution the appointment of provincial ministers could prove to be a costly case of patronage, weighing heavily on the national coffers.

    “It is a significant factor contributing to the unnecessary ballooning of cabinet and by nexus plundering of tax payers’ money through what seems to be a culture of rewarding and creating jobs for the ‘boys’,” he said.

    Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) Programs Officer Tendai Muchada stated that Chikukwa’s statement to the effect that Harare City Council should be run in line with Zanu-PF’s election manifesto should be “condemned with the utmost contempt it deserves”.

    “Harare should be run in line with what the ratepayers want, not what the politburo recommends,” he said.
    Muchada apparently pointed to the hypocrisy of Chikukwa’s Zanu-PF party in pushing the indigenization programme, while the top leaders at the capital city’s Council had been made to hire Chinese engineers ahead of many local ones who are unemployed.

    “If she really was true to her word, then the top managers at Harare City Council should not have hired 36 Chinese engineers ahead of our local expertise,” Muchada said. “It only serves to prove that they (Zanu-PF) are only good at indicating right while subsequently turning left.”

    Meanwhile, asked by the Crisis Report about his view on the USD 144 million loan that was reportedly borrowed from China to upgrade Harare’s water system Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development’s (Zimcodd)’s Hopewell Gumbo said it did not comply with participatory borrowing procedures.

    “Government is not consulting us and there is great danger that we are silently watching the mortgaging of Zimbabwe's resources,” he said.

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