Former MDC Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South, Eddie Cross has said the devolution rhetoric should be backed by action to eradicate poverty in “neglected Southern provinces.
Cross, an economist, and advisor to President Emmerson Mnangagwa said devolution has to be fully implemented in line with the constitutional provisions. He said:
I think the rhetoric on devolution should be followed through with serious implementation to make sure no one and no province is left behind.
There should not be unequal development and you will find that the rural folk in Matabeleland are worse off than the rural folk in the Mashonaland provinces in terms of poverty.
Historically the southern provinces have been neglected partly because they are poorer in terms of resources.
They have less minerals and metals deposits, poorer climate and rainfall for agriculture hence there has been less investment there.
Section 268 of Chapter 12 of the 2013 constitution provides for the establishment of provincial councillors in the country’s provinces.
However, to date, there is no enabling act to operationalise devolution despite the government approving principles of the Provincial Councils and Administration (Amendment) Bill.
Cross’ remarks came after Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa announced that 1 688 projects were implemented during the period January to December 2021.
She said out of the 1 688 projects, 657 projects are fully completed, while implementation of 1 031 is ongoing.
A breakdown of the projects showed that:
1). the three Matabeleland provinces combined account for 21% of projects
2). Harare metropolitan alone accounted for 10% of the projects.
3). Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central- accounted for 30%. Harare and the Mashonaland provinces together accounted for 40% of the projects.
4). Manicaland also had a significant chunk, accounting for 16.2%.
Although the Cabinet brief did not indicate the value of the projects, observers say this was a testimony of continued systematic marginalisation that has left southern Zimbabwe lagging behind in development.