Devolving rights to resource users strengthens community security, empowers communities, reduces poverty, and enhances citizen participation. Importantly, it embraces value addition and beneficiation of resources found in each district as opposed to exporting them in their primary state, to enhance ownership of local development initiatives.
At CRD, we champion equitable sharing of resources between local and central government to strengthen citizen empowerment and democracy. To achieve economic justice from exploitation of natural resources for our communities, we advocate for devolution of power. Devolution is provided for in section 264 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013, calling for the devolvement of government powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities.
Centralisation of power in Zimbabwe has deprived local authorities’ fiscal autonomy to provide quality service delivery and development for their communities. Government’s legislative agenda delivered in the 9th parliament of Zimbabwe in 2018 committed to introduce devolution. Devolutions bills such as the Provincial and Metropolitan Bill (PMB), Urban Councils Bill Rural District Councils Bill and Traditional Leaders Bill were proposed for legislation.
CRD led civil society groups in gathering citizens’ views on devolution and presented their recommendations to government in February 2019. Central to citizens’ expectations on devolution laws was the issue of revenue sharing and establishment of effective systems for citizens’ oversight. Government has however chosen to transfer devolution grants to local authorities in violation of section 301 of the Constitution. Without an act of parliament, disbursement of devolution grants by central government is subject to financial abuse and political manipulation.
To promote public accountability in local authorities, CRD mobilises citizens’ groups and undertake community led audits and community scorecards to monitor service delivery and hold duty bearers accountable. By administering these instruments CRD is increasing citizen participation in local government practices. Evidence gathered from these activities is empowering citizens to measure impacts of government decisions and policies on service delivery like the National Development Strategy 1(NDS1). It also enables citizens to give feedback to policy makers through stakeholder dialogues and claim their right to manage their own affairs at local level through devolution.