Stop Abusing Devolution Funds, Mliswa-Chikoka Warns Councils

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

MASHONALAND WEST provincial minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka has warned councils against diverting government’s devolution funds to pay wages.

The minister cited cases in which some local authorities were misusing the funds to buy senior managers and councillors expensive cell phones and laptops.

Devolution seeks to transfer some administrative responsibilities from central government into the hands of the lower rungs of governance.

Speaking during the inaugural 2021 first quarter service delivery review meeting with heads of local authorities in the province Wednesday, Mliswa-Chikoka said the vision was aimed at transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy hinged on the success of devolving governance to lower levels in order to catalyse development.

She said ‘Vision 2030’ was only attainable if resources were channelled towards developmental projects that improved the standards of living for citizens.

“This meeting sets the tone for effective and efficient service delivery.

“His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) is on record to have said that by 2030, Zimbabwe must be an upper middle-income economy.

“You and l are the drivers of this vision in this province. We must, indeed, make Vision 2030 a reality.

“It’s not just another talk shop nor rhetoric. Are we all really behind it or some just want to be seen as being politically-correct?” she said.

The provincial minister said central government was prioritising the service delivery agenda which called on councillors and managers to “put all hands on deck” and build infrastructure to grow their respective local gross domestic products (GDP) through devolution monies.

“Accordingly, in this devolution mode and era, we who are on the ground, have to pull our weight. Devolution funds are no longer something you just sit down and say l want to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that…”

Mliswa-Chikoka said the disbursements from Treasury should be used to finance water augmentation, construction and rehabilitation of health facilities such as clinics and building of schools, projects that change people’s well-being.

“Devolution funds are not payroll funds. Don’t justify (expenditure of) devolution funds by doing things which do touch the lives of the people. If you buy laptops or phones for each other, how does that impact on people’s lives?”

Mliswa-Chikoka took the opportunity to warn town clerks and secretaries, heads will roll at councils that fail to spur development in their respective areas.