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Bulawayo politicians 'weak'

A BULAWAYO-faith-based organisation, Habbakuk Trust has accused local politicians of being "politically weak" and unable to advance the devolution agenda in the region.

The new Constitution adopted in 2013 provides for the establishment of provincial councils in all provinces.

Under section 268 of the same Constitution, legislators are also supposed to sit in the provincial and metropolitan councils.

However, the government has been reluctant to comply with this clause of the Constitution.

Speaking during a virtual meeting on devolution of power in the country organised by political and civic society actors in Pumula constituency Friday, Habbakuk director Dumisani Nkomo accused the government of lacking the political will to implementing the devolution exercise "fearing of losing political power".

"The government or the party that is in charge of government (Zanu-PF) fears that it is ceding political power to other political parties by fully implementing devolution," said Nkomo.

"The quality or caliber of some of our politicians is worrying. Few are engaged on the issue of devolution. This is one thing they could have focused on since 2018, for example insisting on a new Parliament for Bulawayo."

Nkomo said there is a need for embracing devolution throughout the country.

"If devolution is seen as a national and not a Matabeleland issue alone it could work. For example, provinces that previously benefited from centralisation are no longer at the helm of power. The power has shifted to parts of Masvingo and parts of Midlands," he noted.

Nkomo attributed the problem of not challenge the status quo to weak councillors whom he said do not understand the importance of devolution.

"We need to convince all provinces, even people in the system, that devolution works for them. Political actors must begin to take council elections seriously.

"Once we have weak councillors, devolution is also weakened. We should place emphasis on local government elections and field the best candidates there," said Nkomo.

To date, there is no enabling act to operationalise devolution despite the government approving principles of the Provincial Councils and Administration (Amendment) Bill.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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