Parliament concerned over delays in crafting devolution law

Allan Markham in Parliament

Harare North legislator, Allan Markham, has expressed concern over delays in enacting a law that backs the implementation of devolution of power to provinces, arguing its absence was hindering Parliament’s oversight role over funds earmarked for the programme.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe, adopted in 2013, provides for devolution of power from Harare to the country’s 10 provinces.

Despite the absence of an enabling act, the government has been disbursing funds to local authorities under the devolution projects.

“I cannot understand that the Devolution Bill has taken so long to come through Parliament,” questioned Markham in the august House Tuesday.

“Yes, I know it is linked to the Constitutional Bill.  My issue with devolution is, we are funding devolution and yet we have no Bill, meaning we have no control.  As Parliament, we have an oversight role.  We have to do something and we have to try and do it properly.”

He said it was regrettable there was no parliamentary oversight on devolution funds.

“Five percent of the National Budget has no oversight, he decried.

“Last year’s devolution budget which is 4.6% of the National Budget, only 35% was actually released. Forty-five percent has been approved for release but only 35% has been released Mr. Speaker.  This is the major problem because when we did the budget, we expected an extra amount of money.”

Markham bemoaned lack of transparency surrounding devolution funds.

“My biggest concern is that no one knows where that money has gone but the Ministry,” he said.

“We will end up picking up the pieces after it has been done. I implore the Minister (of Local Government)  to get the Devolution Bill through Parliament and to have and review how that money is distributed now before it is too late.”

Hwange East lawmaker, Tose Sansole, weighed in expressing his disappointment over the discrepancy between funds allocated under devolution and the actual funds disbursed.

“The commitment to the devolution agenda is appreciated but my worry is that even in the current year, out of ZWL$2.9 billion that was allocated, only ZWL$700 million was disbursed, representing about 25% of the amount,” he said.

“I think there is a need to move with speed and disburse more of the allocated resources to the local authorities so that they can address developmental issues in the local authority areas.” – Source: Cite