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Chiefs demand devolution

Traditional chiefs have called on the government to speedily implement devolution of power so that communities can benefit from natural resources in their locality.

Speaking at a devolution symposium in Bulawayo Friday, Chief Gampu of Tsholotsho said local communities were not directly benefitting from resources found in the area.

“We have not yet seen devolution, it is yet to be implemented,” said Chief Gampu.

“We are lobbying for the implementation of devolution because for us as chiefs on the ground we are having problems whereby resources from the area like gold at Dogwe Mine which is lying idle; no one wants to invest there.

“We have timber for making tiles and furniture. There is clay for making clay pots and there is clay for making bricks. We also have the Hwange National Park nearby”.

Chief Gampu said they were lobbying for devolution “so that the resources can be used to develop infrastructure, fix roads and other community projects”.

He said decisions must be made at the local government level by people who are knowledgeable about the area and issues on the ground.

Chief Gampu said devolution would ensure there is an equitable distribution of national and local resources.

“As the Chief of Tsholotsho I am of the view that profits from the resources should be used within Tsholotsho,” he said.

Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu in November last year petitioned President Mnangagwa saying the government was pushing a tribal agenda which has led to the economic marginalisation of the region.

“The issues that I want to discuss with you are: the secret issuance of 17 Mining Executive Prospecting Orders (EPO) which costs $20 per ha/year in Matabeleland South e.g. the EPO for Lithium which covers Shapi-Mashongola-Gwatemba in Guyu-Ntepe-crossing Tuli rivers, this means we have no land as chiefs for economic devolution which you proclaimed since all mining EPOs were given to Harare guys and considering precedence mining EPOs have over any activity in that area or land (sic),” said Chief Maduna, in a letter seen by CITE.

In December last year, President Mnangagwa told traditional chiefs that government had allocated US$31 million to each of the country’s 10 provinces for the implementation of devolution.

While government has been vocal about implementing devolution of power, there is no consensus in the model to be used during implementation.

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