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‘Devolution — Zanu PF fears crumbling’

Comment & Analysis
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE ZANU PF would crumble if devolution is adopted in the new constitution because the party has been diverting national resources from all regions to sustain its continued stay in power, political analysts have pointed out.

The party has rejected devolution although the Constitution Select Committee (Copac), a body tasked with crafting the new constitution, noted that most of the country’s 10 provinces wanted devolution at varying degrees as the answer to unequal development.

Zanu PF is prepared to subvert the will of the people and has already declared that the system would not be allowed, describing it as divisive.

But political analyst, Alex Magaisa, said devolution was not divisive, as it simply gave specific powers and functions to the provinces while retaining the supremacy of the national government.

Central government would be entitled to withdraw these powers if it became necessary and would keep control in defence, foreign affairs, national economic policy and taxation.But Zanu PF is not content with diluted power.

The party’s spin doctors, President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, Tafataona Mahoso and Jonathan Moyo, have written passionately against devolution, claiming provinces that supported the system wanted to secede.

Bulawayo Agenda executive director, Thabani Nyoni, said Zanu PF was against devolution because it did not guarantee the political and business interests of the party’s elite, including securocrats.

He said the current centralised system allowed the Zanu PF political elite to enter corrupt deals that benefit individuals without any form of scrutiny.

“Devolution will open and democratise the public and political space and this threatens the business interests of Zanu PF and its military cabal,” said Nyoni.

“Without direct access to national resources, with too many checks and balances, Zanu PF cannot survive another day.”

The party has been accused of channelling proceeds of diamonds mined in Marange district in Manicaland, to fund its day-to-day operations and election campaign.

Finance minister, Tendai Biti, has complained that the proceeds of diamonds were not flowing into the Treasury.

“As Ministry of Finance, we fear that there might be a parallel government in respect of where the revenue is going and not coming to Treasury. This economy needs every resource it can get including diamond revenue,” said Biti, who is the MDC-T secretary general.

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said devolution was adopted by both Copac’s select and management committees, with Zanu PF represented by ministers, Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa. He said Zanu PF made a somersault on devolution after Moyo, who has labeled Copac a mafia, was conscripted into the Zanu PF advisory team to the constitution-making body.

“Zanu PF realised that it was not ready for election after their chaotic DCC (district coordinating committee elections), so they conscripted Moyo to put spanners into the whole process,” said Mwonzora.

“They want to buy time. If you hear them talk of elections, it is just empty political bravado.”

Moyo could not be reached for comment.


Zanu Pf not robbing nation of national resources: Gumbo

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, who also ruled out devolution, denied that national resources were being channelled towards propping Zanu PF’s waning financial fortunes.“We have said Zimbabwe is a unitary state. How does devolution fit in? We can talk of decentralisation and not devolution,” said Gumbo.

He added that Zanu PF would do what the “masses” want, but would not say why the party was against devolution, a concept voted for by most provinces.


Devolution forces Zanu PF to address Gukurahundi atrocities: Magaisa

Magaisa believes devolution would give people from Matabeleland and Midlands province, where an estimated 20 000 civilians were killed during the Gukurahundi massacre, the power to demand justice. Some of the accused are serving security chiefs and senior Zanu PF officials.

“I think there is paranoia over the grievances in Matabeleland arising from the atrocities of the 1980s,” said the commentator.

“The solution is not to ignore those grievances but to address them.”

Magaisa added that Zanu PF had never outgrown its attachment to the one-party-state government since independence.

“That mentality lingers on, more than 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union, the bastions of communism and one party government,” said Magaisa.

“Zanu PF is for centralisation of power — a strong centre, represented by a strong and all-powerful Executive President. Devolution represents an assault on this way of thinking.”

Analysts said devolution enhances the democratic system, as more people participate in decision-making, addresses tribalism, as well as nepotism, that influence resource allocation.

“Devolution will enable the provinces to manage local affairs more efficiently and fairly. The idea is that central government tends to concentrate on the centre, not paying due attention to provinces on the periphery,” said Magaisa.

People in Matabeleland region have complained about the delay in building the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), accusing the government of not giving priority to a project that would address the region’s perennial water problems.

In Manicaland, people have also voiced concern about little development in the area, although diamonds worth billions of dollars benefit other provinces. Already, a diamond polishing and cutting college has been set up in Mashonaland West province, Mugabe’s home area.

It is feared that the mining firms would only leave empty pits, polluted rivers and poverty-stricken villagers displaced from their ancestral land.

In Africa, devolution is being practiced in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.