THE NEW STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT
Whilst our erstwhile opposition and social media leaders exhort the populous to vent their dissatisfaction with the status quo, the discussion in Zimbabwe should also be about identifying solutions that will lead to the kind of Zimbabwe we want in the future. In this series of papers we present an option, which put simply involves the devolution of state power.
Easily written yes, and to some a flippant suggestion, but in a country like Zimbabwe it is hard to implement political reform, let alone ask an overaged president to kindly step down. As recent events and speeches have shown, either he is in no mood to do so, or the people that surround him are reluctant to let him do so. Ultimately the ideas presented here aim to neutralise the current set-up that exists and thereby force the national leadership to follow the will of the people rather than the will of themselves or their acolytes.
When looking at the political power structure of Zimbabwe it quickly becomes apparent that too much power is concentrated at in Harare (the government offices, ZANU PF HQ and Presidents office – The Centre) at the expense of the provinces. We are even now seeing the premium applied to having power concentrated with central government, as the struggle for succession rages unseen in the background, while #ThisFlag, #Tajamuka and others rally the citizens for what is an honourable and just cause.
Invariably the outcome if achieved, may fail to deliver on the spoken and unspoken hopes and promises – we say this because even if there is change at the Centre, those interests remain misaligned because of Zimbabwe’s archaic political and administrative infrastructure. An infrastructure that was inherited from our former colonial masters and has changed little in the last 35 years. How this infrastructure copes with the changing geo-political-economic environment the nation finds itself in is anybodies guess. What is true however is that as long as the state as represented by central government remains overly dominant relative to the provinces, then attendant instability at central government will transmit itself to the provinces. We say give the provinces more administrative power, a fair share of the budget, and an incentive to generate returns and it will trigger a broader all-encompassing socio-economic shift.
Today our provinces are beggars beholden to the Centre, thus what can we expect from our Governors, except subservience to the capital. Imagine for a moment the Midlands with its rich soils and mineral resources to a large extent managing its own budget away from the Centre, empowering its people, managing its municipalities and delivering services all self-funded from internal activities; or Matebeleland doing the same with tourism without interference from the capital, maybe they would have sorted out their water problems long ago but for the political interference from the Centre; Manicaland doing the same with its unique climate.
Indeed there is an argument to devolve central control in order to promote provincial self-interests. Ultimately the returns from those activities are for all Zimbabwean citizens, as the country belongs to all. Funds generated in the devolved state could be shared, on an equity basis rather than pure hard numbers. Thus local empowerment would be of benefit to all stakeholders at a national level.
See our next episode on how this may be possible…