By Bruce Chahwanda, Political Editor
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says local authorities are critical in the promotion of the devolution and decentralisation agenda as the country pursues accelerated rural industrialisation.
He was speaking at the All Councillors Indaba in Harare this Friday.
The indaba, meant to promote an interactive platform with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, began with a congratulatory song after the President turned 80 this Thursday.
Earlier, President Mnangagwa toured exhibition stands where the country’s local authorities were showcasing various services and products found in their jurisdictions.
In his address, President Mnangagwa said local authorities are critical in the implementation of the Second Republic’s devolution agenda.
“Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo philosophy can be fulfilled by local authorities as central government might not know the immediate needs of communities. The devolution and decentralisation agenda being championed by my administration is entrenching participatory democracy by ensuring that resources, powers and functions are given to communities at the grassroots level. In this regard, local authorities are indispensable partners which must provide timely programmes and projects to guarantee equitable development that leaves no one and no place behind.
“I therefore urge you, as stakeholders in this tier of government, to scale up your commitment to improving the quality of lives of the citizenry through the provision of quality services,” he said.
The President urged local authorities to desist from corruption and instead focus on spearheading meaningful and inclusive development in their areas of jurisdiction.
“It is pleasing that there has been a notable improvement in the manner in which local authorities are being run. However, some local authorities still hog the lime light for the wrong reasons. Greater efforts should be made to expunge corruption from within your rank and file, both at political and management levels.
“The law will continue to take its course without fear or favour against those found on the wrong side. It is urgent and important that we scale up the implementation of the devolution agenda. In doing so, local authorities are set to have added responsibilities.
“To facilitate a seamless transition to this broadened scope of your mandates, functions and duties, government adopted a comprehensive devolution and decentralisation policy that guides the process, while removing gaps and ambiguities,” he added.
The need for local authorities to harness the 30 percent women’s quota while also dealing with sprouting illegal settlements came under the spotlight.
“My government has set a 30 percent women’s quota in local government. It is the women who endure the burden of poor services by the local authorities, particularly in urban areas. I, therefore, call upon women from across the country to seize this opportunity to advance the interests of women, the youth and children in both the governance and development of space of our country, beginning at the community level. I challenge all stakeholders to prudently exercise local planning functions and powers to avert the sprouting of illegal and irregular settlements,” noted the President.
President Mnangagwa pledged to buy vehicles for three councillors while also indicating that the vehicle duty free facility for councillors should be implemented in liaison with officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
Meanwhile, 13 local authorities received equipment sourced through devolution funds which is expected to play an important role in enhancing service delivery.