By Lovemore Moyo
Devolution of power, both as a development and political strategy, has been successful throughout the world in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts, especially in countries with diverse and heterogeneous communities. In this regard, countries like United Kingdom, Spain, South Africa and Kenya have recorded tremendous success in Devolution through localisation of development and politics. The delegation of administrative and legislative powers to provinces or regions will immensely strengthen localised development and community participation in governance. Furthermore, the establishment of a Devolved system of governance will tremendously strengthen the envisaged cooperative governance and ownership of development initiatives.
So far, the colonially inherited centralised unitary system of government fostered tyranny, patronage, marginalisation, tribalism, inequality, injustice, human rights violations, corruption and looting of community resources. For instance, the looting of Marange and Chiadzwa diamonds, the exploitation of Mutoko granite stones in Mashonaland, exploitation of timber and mineral resources in both Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South respectively could have been minimised. Accordingly, in order to correct the past and present imbalances, inequalities and injustices, devolution must be speedily implemented to reduce ethnic disempowerment like tribalism and racism in Zimbabwe. However, it’s our firm view that if devolution of power is properly implemented, it can undoubtedly promote nation building, national unity, national stability, provincial economic growth, prosperity and ensure self-reliance.
The desire for self-determination is enshrined aptly in international law which recognises the rights of communities to govern themselves independent of the control and interference of the national or local government. Every person, community, society and nation aspires to be free from vagaries of marginalisation, inequality, injustice, ethnic discrimination and underdevelopment. More importantly, contemporary societies endeavour to exercise freedom to develop, prosper and control their culture, tradition and resources. In the context of Zimbabwe, the
ushering-in of the new constitution in 2013 gave hope and much-needed sighs of relief to marginalised communities of Zimbabwe, in particular the Matabeleland region.
It’s common cause that in societies where unfair categorisation and characterisation of communities according to their race, tribe or language, the so-called dominant majority often uses its numerical strength to dominate and marginalise the less powerful in all spheres of life, leading to the radicalisation of the marginalised. The politically and economically excluded communities have rightly pointed to a centralised system of government as largely responsible for their underdevelopment, marginalisation and the resultant poverty and political instability. Accordingly, the essence of a devolution movement is to ensure the full implementation of Chapter 14 of the constitution of Zimbabwe which fully guarantees Devolution of power to provinces and local authorities. Because of the past ethnic conflicts, which led to the state-sponsored ethnic cleansing that was motivated by tribal hatred and desire to silence Ndebele-speaking people.
It’s against this background that devolution as the people’s popular choice, option and compromise for a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe must be immediately implemented. It must be noted that Zimbabwe is a heterogeneous society, therefore, tribal and racial balance becomes imperative if we aspire to build a united nation. In this regard, UMD strongly believe in the establishment of autonomous provinces and local governments in all provinces of Zimbabwe. Our view is that Zimbabwe desperately needs a new political paradigm shift in the form of devolution of power as an immediate response to the Matabeleland question of socio-economic and political marginalisation and other marginalised provinces. The devolution agenda speaks to the need to restructure the country’s main state institutions as there’s a link between institutions and development.
In essence, the restructuring of government institutions should ideally make them more inclusive, non-partisan and representative of Zimbabwe’s ethnic, tribal and racial diversity. Finally, UMD strongly condemns all forms of discrimination, be it in the work places, employment opportunities, promotion, manpower development and development opportunities. We stand firm and resolute in support of the principles and values of devolution of power in so far as giving opportunities in all spheres to the locals first.
Victory is ours and the future of this movement is bright.
Power to the People!
l Hon Lovemore Moyo