Much hyped devolution funds spawning corruption, says report

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By Darlington Gatsi

ZIMBABWE Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), a non-governmental organisation, has described government’s much-hyped devolution monies disbursed by Treasury to councils as cannon fodder for corruption.

In a report titled ‘Public Resources Management Situational’, which was released last week, ZIMCODD said there were loopholes in the Act of Parliament on devolution of funds as there lacked a framework to ensure accountability and how resources would be used.

According to the Constitution, government is mandated to disburse 5% of the national purse to local authorities towards service delivery.

Harare City Council has, so far, received ZW$73 million out of the allocated ZW$2 billion from government.

Reads part of the dossier: “One of the objectives of devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities to the provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities is to ensure the equitable sharing of local and national resources, according to section 264(2)(e) of the Constitution

“This is in line with the principle of equitable and geographical distribution of resources.

In this regard, section 301(1) of the Constitution stipulates that an Act of Parliament must provide for the equitable allocation of capital grants between provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities; any other allocations to provinces and local authorities, and provision of any conditions on which those allocations may be made.

“However, the status quo has created a lacuna that has become an avenue for corruption, embezzlement, misuse and misappropriation of devolution funds as there is no framework for implementing and accounting for devolution funds.”

Town clerks and other top council officials have been looting the money.

“This has left devolution funds at the mercy of local and central government public officials who will use their discretion considering how much to allocate/disburse, when and how while residents have little or no say but just mere beneficiaries/recipients,” read the report.

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) controls the majority of local authorities, and stands accused of misappropriating allocated funds.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) acting director, Ruben Akili concurred with ZIMCODD findings, arguing Local Government Minister, July Moyo, must not dictate how devolution funds are expended.

Last month, Moyo drew criticism from opposition parties after awarding a Belarusian company tender to supply fire trucks worth US$55 million.

“We call upon our government to expedite revenue allocation formula and even the guidelines which will give effect to distribution of the funds because at the moment the ministry thinks it is their money, but it is also the money residents,” said Akili.