CONCEPT OF DEVOLUTION AND DECENTRALIZATION IS KEY TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDCT President Nelson Chamisa
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance Leader Nelson Chamisa

Basically devolution has economic gains if handled properly in Zimbabwe. President E.D Mnangagwa brought a key economic issue if implemented it will go a long way to resolve tribal and ethnic values which were skipped in previous arrangements. It has the potential to spur economic growth and also address some improper political and economic imbalances. What that basically means is that he can work together and argument well with provincial councils despite their political affiliations through metropolitan ministers responsible for each specific province.

BY TINASHE ERIC MUZAMHINDO

Each province will then be allocated resources, and they will be given specific targets of which will then contribute directly towards the GDP of each province in percentage terms. How much does each province contribute towards the GDP? They must be given targets and they eat what they kill. If those provinces sleep on duty then it means at the end resources will be given to those who are serious. Budgetary allocations can be distributed through central Government offices in specific districts or provinces. It is important and key for the central Government through the minister of Finance to use the central statistics office to find out how much each province produce or contribute economically.

What are the economic gains Zimbabwe can gain from each specific province? Devolution is described as the transfer of delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to local or regional administration. It will foster unity and growth. It revives people’s fortunes and hopes and address some improper imbalances both politically and economically. Devolution has come at the right time, if economists, academics and policy makers are properly consulted and their contributions can make a positive impact on the Southern Africa nation which was once a bread basket nation. Both President Mnangagwa Government and the opposition acknowledged the concept of devolution and its key attributes and contribution to national development.

I would suggest that devolution be part of the national agenda. In fact it can be accommodated on the second national development plan. It will spur and enhance development and economic growth. There are synonyms on the concept of devolution which are decentralization, delegation, dispersal, distribution of the national cake, relinquishment of central power to local authorities within the context of regionalism. Devolved territories have the power to make legislation relevant to the area. The central authority may withdraw the devolved powers are constitutionally divided. One would take note that most of the economic, political and social activities are highly active in Harare only leaving other cities and towns with major stumbling block to development.

If you look at Bulawayo as the second major city after Harare, it still have a long way to go. To resolve this issue which has impacted the economic activities in other parts of the country, it is critical for the central Government to endorse the issue of devolution and decentralisation of central Government. Decentralisation has become a buzzword for politicians, policy makers, political scientists and media practioners. The issue of devolution has become synonymous with good governance and development. There has been a lot of political resistance in several economies over the issue of devolution most probably because of political connotations and other key issues evolving funding and regional imbalances. It took time until of recent when the western world had to put pressure over the issue of devolution.

A number of protagonists view the concept of devolution and decentralization as an approach to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. Lack of effectiveness was a major thorny issue in several entities. If President Mnangagwa and his entire team is to achieve the issue of quality, they have to second the idea of devolution so that quality and standard is maintained in several parts of the country. If you compare our infrastructure you will discover that Harare is on the lead leaving other major cities seriously affected. Devolution can be a very good economic indicator towards reviving our economic growth. It is prudent to come up with a research document which can be used as a template on the concept of devolution in order to achieve our economic objectives.

According to my own research this has worked out well especially in countries like South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. Such countries can be used as case studies for our own approach. Local community leaders play a key role on the concept of devolution on the basis that local community leaders will be benevolent and wise, that communities have available to themselves a vision, and effective and managerial personnel, that local leaders will always choose policies that are economic and social benefit to the community, and that the objectives and activities of the local administration will not counter those of the central Government.

ADMINSTRATIVE DECENTRALIZATION / DEVOLUTION

The concept of administrative decentralization seeks to improvise and redistribute authority, responsibility and financial resources for providing public services among different levels of Government. Major areas of focus are planning, management and financing of certain public functions from the central Government and its agencies to field units of Government agencies, subordinates units or levels of Government , semi – autonomous public authorities or corporations , or area- wide , regional or functional authorities.

There are three forms of administration on devolution and decentralization which enables the processes effectively and efficiently. These will be the three pillars and they will play a key pivotal role in ensuring that devolution and decentralization remains a key concept in development. The three are delegation, devolution and de-concentration. To define these three in simpler terms, de – concentration is viewed to be the weakest form of de-centralisation and is used most frequently in unitary states – re-distributes decision making authority and financial management responsibilities from central Government officials. Basically supervision will be from central Government ministries.

DELEGATION

It is important and extensive to delegate work. In other words one of the basic ingredients of the corporate world is to delegate work to your juniors. Management do less work. They assign roles to their subordinates. So this idea of delegation works well in devolution principle. You don’t need to be doing everything. If you see a minister doing everything, going everywhere then there is a problem. There are some key duties which require the Head of State and there are some duties which require a Government minister. One must learn to separate powers. You don’t need to be a lover in management. There are some duties that can be done by a permanent secretary or even a principal director. Basically a minister carries a political face, even the Head of State, he is a political face, but the implementation part is done by either ministers or mostly permanent secretaries.

It is more extensive form of decentralization. Through delegation central Governments transfer responsibilities for decision making and administration of public functions to semi- autonomous organizations not wholly controlled by the central Government, but ultimately accountable to it. Government delegate responsibilities when they create public enterprises or corporations, housing authorities, transportation authorities, special service districts, semi – autonomous school districts, regional development corporations, or special project implementation units. Usually these organizations have a great deal of discretion in decision making.

DEVOLUTION

A third type of administrative decentralization is devolution. When governments devolve functions, they transfer authority for decision-making, finance, and management to quasi-autonomous units of local government with corporate status. Devolution usually transfers responsibilities for services to municipalities that elect their own mayors and councils, raise their own revenues, and have independent authority to make investment decisions. In a devolved system, local governments have clear and legally recognized geographical boundaries over which they exercise authority and within which they perform public functions. It is this type of administrative decentralization that underlies most political decentralization.

DECENTRALIZATION IS A KEY ECONOMIC REFORM

Civil service reform is usually a supporting strategy for more general decentralization in government operations or service delivery. One does not decentralize the civil service as an end in itself — one does so in order to provide services better, manage resources more efficiently, or support other general outcome goals. The civil service as a whole can be seen as one of the main instruments with which the government fulfils its obligations. In the context of decentralization, this tool must often be reshaped in order to perform a new set of duties efficiently, equitably, and effectively.

Reform of the civil service, therefore, is the process of modifying rules and incentives to obtain a more efficient, dedicated and performing government labour-force in newly decentralized environment. Civil services at all levels of government need a capable, motivated, and efficient staff in order to deliver quality services to its citizens. When civil service functions and structures are decentralized, existing bureaucratic patterns must be reorganized as roles and accountability are shifted. Decentralization thus intensifies the need for capable staff and increases the importance of capacity-building programs. Can disperse scale economies/expertise groups: The need for specialized personnel is related in part to the size of the territory covered by the entity. Below a certain size, it might be counterproductive or cost inefficient to have specialists or technical personnel.

There are methods which can be used to address this issue, one of which is to allow in the context of the decentralization schemes the possibility of empowering local self-governments units to form associations and pool their resources in order to cover activities requiring specialized personnel. Introduces more levels into the state: Decentralization, especially political decentralization creates a class of government workers which, based on the specific information which they receive (feedback from their constituencies) may have different preferences than workers at the next higher level. This divergence in views and convictions can create conflict within the civil service that will require mechanisms to manage effectively.

Creates a tension between local autonomy and national standards: Decentralization relaxes national control and creates the potential for more regional variation in civil service conditions. Some room for variation allows regions the flexibility to hire a civil service that matches a community’s needs and budget constraints. National salary, eligibility, and performance standards can ensure consistent quality, but they can also lead to personnel expenditures (especially for locally administered education and health sectors) beyond some local capacities; grant transfer systems will need to take different financing capacities into account in these and other types of mandated expenditures. The Philippines, Indonesia, and Pakistan are examples of decentralized states with essentially uniform terms and conditions of service for government employees in different regions.

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is an academic in his own right and he is studying Doctor of Philosophy in the area of Development studies at Women University of Africa (PhD Candidate) and can be contacted at tinamuzala@gmail.com

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