‘No money to set up provincial councils’

GOVERNMENT does not have money to set up provincial councils as provided for in the Constitution, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Senate last week.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/VENERANDA LANGA

Provincial and metropolitan councils are provided for under the Constitution, primarily for the advancement of the principle of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities.

The new Constitution created eight provincial councils and two metropolitan provincial councils for Harare and Bulawayo.

Emmerson-Mnangagwa16 Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa [/Caption]

Mnangagwa, who also oversees the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry, however, said government was not deliberately frustrating the setting up of provincial councils, but rather was broke.

“We are not violating the Constitution at all. The government has not declined to implement the provisions of the Constitution,” Mnangagwa said.

“There is a process, if you read the Constitution properly. It says that there must be an Act of Parliament to operationalise what is provided in the Constitution.

“It has been a question of resources for us to implement that provision. Let me assure you that it shall be done in time whenever resources will be made available.”

Mnangagwa was responding to a question by Matabeleland South Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa, who wanted to know when the provincial councils would be set up.

Under Section 264 (2) of the Constitution, provincial authorities are supposed to be given more powers by central government to run their affairs and other responsibilities.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have blasted government for delaying setting up of the provincial councils.

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu yesterday said government’s failure to set up the councils had nothing to do with resources, but the issue was that the Zanu PF government has always been against a devolved system of power.

“Even during the crafting of the new constitution they (Zanu PF) resisted devolution of power. The issue of lack of resources is not true because we do not need a lot of money to craft the Provincial Councils Act and overhaul the Urban Councils Act to operationalise Provincial Councils.

“Zimbabwe has one of the best drafters of Bills and statutory instruments in the world that work in the Attorney-General’s office. We have never been short of manpower to draft the Bill. According to the Constitution, Harare and Bulawayo must be headed by mayors who chair metropolitan councils, but I do not see government doing that during the tenure of the Eighth Parliament,” Gutu said.

He said even if government has no resources the people voted into provincial councils could at least have been sworn in.

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said failure by the government to operationalise provincial councils was deliberate.

“It is a strategy to slow down development in marginalised areas. The reasons given by Mnangagwa in Parliament are childish because it is the responsibility of government to craft the law.

“We urge Mnangagwa to start smelling the coffee and not sleep on duty. The arrogance and incompetence of the President Robert Mugabe’s regime is negatively affecting development in rural areas,” Chihwayi said.

Chihwayi said the government was anti-development of marginalised areas and scared to empower communities.

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