MDC National Assembly representative for Matabeleland South Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has urged Parliament to put pressure on Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to ensure provincial councils are set up as soon as possible.
The new Constitution provides for the setting up of the councils as part of efforts to decentralise the government, a concept the Welshman Ncube-led MDC based its campaign on ahead of the July 31 elections.
Contributing to debate on President Robert Mugabe’s speech when he officially opened Parliament in August, Misihairabwi-Mushonga last week said although the parties that formed the inclusive government were divided on devolution of power, the concept could no longer be ignored because it was enshrined in the Constitution.
“I therefore call upon us as this House to impress upon, like I said, the minister to make sure that these people are sworn in. But more importantly, let us make sure that we have a short term and a long-term arrangement around those issues of setting up a provincial council,” she told the National Assembly.
“I believe while a lot of things may be said around issues of devolution. We had major discussions around devolution and decentralisation being a major part of how we would democratise and move this country forward. I think it is important for us to stick to what we say.”
Zanu PF initially resisted the inclusion of devolution of power in the new Constitution saying it would divide Zimbabweans along ethnic lines. Misihairabwi- Mushonga said the delay in setting up councils would create an impression that some people wanted to frustrate devolution.
“Devolution was one area that created a lot of division among ourselves, but we finally agreed to that essence of devolution,” she said. “We should not create in anyone’s mind that because some of us were unhappy with the essence and principle of devolution, we therefore are going to make sure that we do not put that devolution in place.”
The former minister said it was a violation of the Constitution.
“We already have started violating the whole essence of the constitution that we put up. Chombo, as the Local Government minister, should with immediate effect call those Provincial Council members so that at the very least, they can be sworn-in,” Misihairabwi- Mushonga said.