My topic today relates to the status of devolution funds. What is devolution as defined? It is defined broadly in section 264 of the Zimbabwe constitution. My interest today relates to sub sections 264(a),(b),(d), and (e) and what has so far happened in our district with regards to funds already released. The above section require that communities must decide on the direction in which development in their community should take. They are the ones to determine and prioritise development projects and the application of funds for the purpose. In this regard no institutional, individual authority or body can purport to determine what people or communities want or deliver any services, projects or projects without consultation and concent of the relevant community. The job of government offices is to allocate funds for and execute projects and programs that have been determined by the affected communities. I am sadly concerned that to date Government has released funds under the devolution fund. However, we have seen councils embarking on projects without prior consultation of their respective communities, in this instance wards, through their elected representative councilors. My consultation with councilors reveal that councilors have not consulted their electorate with regards application of funds already released. In response councilors indicated that they too are not being given room to seek input from their electorate but being simply told that council has received funds and has done this and that on behalf of their respective wards.
I am left deeply concerned, if this is the case, that as a district we may be heading nowhere by being given programs and projects that are not on our priorities but determined by people who have self-interest agendas. I therefore urge our councilors to be given leading roles in determining what their need. Why surely should we have the left hand doing what the right hand does not know and vice versa. At times these parties (NGOs,Councillors) meeting at a place intending to identify a borehole site or where a borehole already exist. I am open to criticism or counter criticism on this open platform or to my inbox.
Not only that the two councils (CTC and CRDC) are also abusing devolution funds. For example CRDC is busy buying school furniture using devolution funds and distributing it to schools purpoting that its council donations. That’s corruption at its worst. How can devolution money become council donation? The furniture is being bought at thrice the market price and from dubious third-party companies probably owned by cronies of council officials.
To date government has released two tranches of devolution funds and all has been channelled towards school furniture where it can easily be corruptly abused. Why buying furniture when our roads are not accessible. Our councillors are not even involved as they are simply told government has released money and it has been used to buy furniture all without council meetings held hence no resolutions. Asked for comment, the CEO claims they are implementing projects lined up under the council’s budget. If that is correct the purpose of devolution is defeated as the fund is not meant to subsidise council budgets but to decentralise central government development programmes where councils can only act as implementing partners on community driven projects. We are going to have another ACC investigation soon. We need to be accountable if we are to develop our district.