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Devolution is the right way; The Rainy Day for Zimbabwe

ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union) Manifesto 2010, position on Devolution stated in Section Two (2) Manifesto Articles C &D reads:

  1. Devolution of Power to the Provinces

Excessive centralization built on the colonial "control" model has enabled the construction of an extensive patronage system in which political connection became an economic tool for the post-independence elite. ZAPU will remove the stranglehold of bureaucratic centralization, and work for devolution of political power and requisite economic responsibility to five viable provinces: Manicaland, Mashonaland, Masvingo, Matebeleland, and Midlands. Devolution of Power to the Provinces means the following:

  1. Provinces to have their own government elected by the people in the Provinces;
  2. Provincial government to have control over natural resources and environmental issues within its geographical jurisdiction;
  • Provinces to have Provincial Parliamentary Assembly;
  1. Provinces to have Provincial Judiciary System;
  2. Provinces to have their own Provincial revenue raising system;
  3. People in the Provinces to be responsible for their economic, social, cultural and political development.
  4. Proportional Representation and the First-Past-the-Post

Proportional representation will be used at the national level, because it promotes the right to participate in the governance of one’s country.  It accommodates diverse interests and promotes consensus.  It enhances power sharing and allegiance to the political order of the day by leaders of different political parties because they have a stake in the arrangement.

The first-past-the-post electoral system will be used in the election of members of the Provincial Parliament/Assembly. It is important to ensure direct representation and accountability at the local level. Election of Country’s President, Prime Minister and Creation of National Executive Authority

e.The National Assembly (Parliament) which will be elected through a proportional representation system will elect the President.  The President after consultation with leaders of political parties in Parliament will appoint the Prime Minister.  The national Executive Authority will include President, Deputy President, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and the Premiers of the 5 Provinces.  The National Executive Authority will be the supreme decision making body of Zimbabwe.  Its duties will be as follows:

  1. Advise the President on the meaning and implication of old and new legislation before he signs it into law;
  2. Advise the President on all matters of national interest and concern; and
  3. Advise the President on all senior national government Appointments, including appointments of people to constitutionally entrenched institutions

ZAPU Ideology

The principle goal for the Zimbabwe liberation struggle was the removal of racial domination, racial and tribal discrimination, subjugation, exploitation and oppression of black people of Zimbabwe by the then white colonial settlers. The fight for independence of Zimbabwe was the fight to reclaim the dignity of people of all races, respect of human rights and equality rights and freedoms as proclaimed in  the United Nations General assembly resolution 217A (III) of 1948. The United Nations Human Rights resolution sets out the fundamental human rights to be protected. The ideology of ZAPU is ‘Human Rightism.’  Human Rightism is concerned with survival, social justice, human wellbeing and equality in terms of rights and responsibilities as a basis to promote social progress, social justice and better standards of life to people of Zimbabwe.

‘All human rights are inseparable, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the other rights. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others.’

ZAPU’s model of governance by devolution of power to the provinces offers the best alternative form of governance that promotes and protects all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of political, affiliations, economic and social status, ethnic and cultural background.


ZAPU Devolution Approach

The ZAPU devolution of power model is making use of local assets or resources to enhance the ability of individuals, communities and the general population to maintain and sustain social and economic development through the concept of localism.  This approach will operate at local communities and provincial levels to promote self-reliance to safe guard against social and economic stagnation, marginalisation and isolation of certain provinces within the country. ZAPU devolution of power values the capacity, skills, knowledge, connection and potential in the community in transforming the natural resources to an economic activity that has social and material benefits for the local community and the country too. The requisite of ZAPU devolution of power is  the  legislative  frame work,  the natural and  human  capacity, technology,  the practical skills, capacity and knowledge of different provinces and communities; the culture that is prevalent in those regions  that gives those  people a particular identity and practice;  and the social capital that include schools,  primary health, energy resources, roads  and water supplies. ZAPU devolution of power also considers the resource of public, private and third sector organisations that supports those regions and communities to enhance economic and social development.

ZAPU model of devolution of power is moving from deficit to an asset approach. It assumes that a deficit approach is beginning from the current level of community or region’s capacity and move towards an asset approach where the community begins to think of new ways of going forward.  It starts with the assets (both human and material) in the community, identifying opportunities and strengths. ZAPU devolution of power gives ownership to local people of their social and economic development, based on the principles of appreciating self-help and mobilising human and material resources for a common cause on the principle of self-starter and community motivation for identified needs and goals. ZAPU devolution of power builds on appreciative inquiry which identifies and analyses the existing strengths for the community by instilling confidence in their own capacities and inspiring them to take action to fulfill their socio economic needs.

The development and scope of ZAPU devolution of power implies developing some new skills and challenges the traditional ways of governance. In a traditional centralised government of ZANU PF delays associated with bureaucracy that impedes on the democratic principles and freedoms for people to make choices on matters affecting them. Decisions are usually made by distant authorities with inadequate knowledge and appreciation of localized circumstances in various regions and communities. The centralised approach using centralised authorities and because of their lack of understanding of the needs of the local communities their perceptions is that needs of local communities are the same. The intervention used is that one size fits all.

In a centralised ZANU PF arrangement the decision maker is peripheral to the local community and the business decision making office is placed outside the reach of the local area. This feeds in red tape, chiefdom, corruption, arrogance, patronage and bureaucracy.

The scope of devolution of power

Devolution of power empowers local provincial authorities to make them central in decision making through local legislative assembles. This includes mapping the resources, skills and talents of individuals, associations and organisations; developing the links between different parts of the community and its agencies; revitalising community relationships and mutual support to rediscover collective power and training local community members to research the needs of their community.

Methuseli Moyo, (24/08/2010), Separate Myth from fact, New Zimbabwe;

 ‘Devolution is associated with more democratic governance and a means to enact and deepen democratic participation. Local units of government are autonomous, independent and clearly perceived as separate levels of government over which central authorities exercise little or no direct control; the local governments have clear and legally recognised geographical boundaries within which they exercise authority and perform public functions; local governments have corporate status and the power to secure resources to perform their functions’.

 Devolution of power provides a remedy for countries that struggle to define their national identities; promotes tolerance, inclusive nationalism against the purveyors of tribalism, social and political marginalisation of certain regions within the country.

Devolution of power can effectively work through a statutory granting of powers from the central government of an independent democratic country to governance at sub-national level, such as provinces to district levels. These may include provincial assemblies, district authorities and local councils giving them autonomous powers to run their socio-economic affairs. It is the transfer of political and administration powers from central government to local authorities. The provincial premiers, district councilors and village committees are elected by people contrary to imposing leaders to people by the state. ZAPU guarantees a constitutional right and within its manifesto provides for devolution of power into five provinces, namely:







Map of Zimbabwe showing devolved provinces under ZAPU devolution of power

The map shows ZAPU  devolved political  and administrative legislative provinces


Each of these devolved provinces will have their own legislative assemblies namely the provincial assembly of Mashonaland, provincial assembly of Midlands, provincial assembly of Manicaland, provincial assembly of Masvingo and provincial assembly of Matabeleland. Each of these is led by an elected Premier or governor. The provincial assemblies are subdominant to the national assembly but exercising autonomy in areas of their constitutional jurisdictions. The national assembly comprising members of parliament remains sovereign. The highest decision making authority will be the national executive authority comprising of the president, deputy president, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Premiers of the five provinces.

The hierarchal structure of governance under ZAPU devolution


The following is the simplified hierarchal structure of governance base on ZAPU devolution of power. See how levels of governance are interlinked which is crucial for checks and balances and flow of communication


The model of devolution of power is successful in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. In India, Canada and United States of America the model is called federalism where there are federal states. The concept of devolution or federalism is the same; the driving force is the reason for devolution, and the exercise and implementation of the model enshrined in the constitution of individual countries practicing the various versions of models of devolution. ZAPU devolution  of power gives a constitutional mandate for people at all provinces in Zimbabwe to enjoy proportionate political and economic power in championing the development and management of economic resources in their respective provinces.


The provincial assemblies will be structured according to a parliamentary system in which the executive is dependent on and accountable to the electorate. In each provinces the provincial legislatures is elected by the system of ‘First past the post.’ Under First Past The Post (FPTP) voting takes place in single-member constituencies. Voters put a cross in a box next to their favoured candidate and the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins.

The powers of the provincial assemblies will be bound by the national constitution, which limits them to listed functional areas. The constitution will outline a principle of co-operative government whereby the various layers of government  will coordinate their actions and legislative duties; it will also lay down a series of rules for resolving conflicts between national and provincial legislation (the lower levels of governance) or within  the same levels of governance structures.    

ZAPU views devolution of power as a fair model of governance based on apportioning proportionate representation also called Symmetric devolution of power. ZAPU symmetrical devolution of power provides for equal political and administration powers to all the five legislative provinces. They are all bound by the same rules and regulation stated in the constitution.

This is a fair system in which the number of seats held by members of a political party in a legislature in national or provincial assembly is determined by the number of votes its candidates receive in an election or proportional to its actual voting strength in the electorate. ZAPU believes the system creates a more accurate reflection of public opinion and gives opportunities for wider participation in politics.

The devolution of power sharing arrangement in the view of ZAPU is a key factor in negotiations on the constitution and is designed to address the mistrust among the country’s ethnic, tribal, racial and religious groups on issues of their recognition and discrimination in development projects.

ZAPU observes that the South African example of Devolution of power and the process of electing members into office has worked successfully.

Adopted from:

South Africa has nine provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape. Each province has its own provincial government, with legislative power vested in a provincial legislature and executive power vested in a provincial premier and exercised together with the other members of a provincial executive council.  The legislature has between 30 and 80 members elected for a five-year term based on the province’s portion of the national common voters’ roll. The number of seats awarded to each political party is in proportion to the outcome of the provincial election. Provincial elections are held concurrently with national elections every five years. The legislature is empowered to pass legislation within its functional areas, as well as a constitution for the province should it wish to do so. A provincial legislature is bound only by the national Constitution, or by a provincial constitution if it has passed one. The premier is elected by the legislature and, as with the President at national level, is limited to two five-year terms in office. The premier appoints the other members of the executive council (MECs), which functions as a cabinet at provincial level. The members of the executive council are accountable individually and collectively to the legislature. Provincial & national, provincial & local Strengthening the links between national and provincial government, a province’s permanent delegates to the National Council of Provinces may attend and speak in the provincial legislature and committees, but may not vote. The legislature may also recommend legislation to the National Assembly. The devolution of power to municipal level is furthered by the province’s ability to assign any of its legislative powers to a municipal council in that province. National legislation may prevail over provincial legislation in cases where they conflict under certain circumstances, such as the maintenance of national security or economic unity, the protection of the environment, or in matters prejudicial to the interests of another province.

The South African example of devolution is based on the model of symmetrical devolution similar to the devolution adopted by ZAPU.

Key points

  • ZAPU devolution of power is a statutory decentralization of symmetrical status, authority, legislative and administrative powers to lower levels of governance within a democratic country, Zimbabwe.
  • In ZAPU devolution of power, sovereign authority resides in parliament at the national assembly with provincial legislatures excising their constitutional rights for economic and social development.
  • ZAPU devolution of power will be enshrined in the constitution to give it a legal status. A devolved democracy must establish that the national constitution, and the national judicial system, is supreme over national, local and provincial authorities.  Prosecutors, investigators and commissions will have the authority to investigate abuses of power, violations of rights, and charges of corruption in local, provincial and national governments.  Violators must be held accountable in the national courts. Levels of government below the national assemble will not be allowed to maintain their own armies or militias

Political and administrative powers are devolved to lower levels of governance to include provincial assembly urban and district councils.  Provincial political administrative boundaries will need to be clearly defined and observed by law. ZAPU manifesto has five provincial legislative assemblies each one with a people elected premier with its constituents including Matabeleland, Mashonaland, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland.

  • Proportionate funding by national assembly of all levels of devolved provinces will be law and mandatory. Provinces will exercise full autonym on the budgetary needs of those funds.  Provinces will have a duty to raise their own funds within given parameters.
  • Proportional representation will be used at the national assembly, because it promotes the right to participate in the governance of one’s country.  It accommodates diverse interests and promotes consensus.  It enhances power sharing and allegiance to the political order of the day by leaders of different political parties because they have a stake in the arrangement.
  • The first-past-the-post electoral system will be used in the election of members of the Provincial Assembly. It is important to ensure direct representation and accountability at the local level.
  • The National Assembly (Parliament) which will further elect the President. 
  • In ZAPU devolution of power, social and economic development will spread evenly to all political regions preventing marginalisation of other region. ZAPU devolution of power model is a tool for equitable distribution of political power, wealth and natural resources., and recognition of social diversity in the country

The ZAPU model of devolution of power is symmetric. Symmetric devolution of power assumes that political and administrative power is devolved to lower layers of governance and these entities join together to form a single national government administration at national assembly.

ZAPU government will devolve power to provincial legislatures in the following services:

  • primary health and social care
  • primary law making (byelaws)  and environmental policing
  • primary and secondary education, tertiary education and youth development programs.
  • local government, settlements, service delivery and housing
  • local environment, planning and  social and economic infrastructure
  • local tourism, sport and recreation, museums, cultural heritage; languages, equality and diversity
  • local economic development , industry and commerce , internal transport and vehicle licensing
  • Community broadcasting both television and radio
  • Provincial energy, fuel and power supply
  • Mines and mining
  • Agriculture; and  food production

ZAPU believes that devolving these services to provincial authorities is consistent with the principle that decision-making powers are spread to all levels of governance linked to the national assembly. Devolution  of power discourses will therefore draw on nationalist identities to create new systems of governance, aimed at being more responsive, relevant, transparent, and accountable to people at all levels of governance, and to be a bridge across the divide between the state and civil society.

ZAPU aims are to achieve a holistic approach to policy development and delivery, focused on the requirements of local citizens, and to strengthen local democracy. Particular importance will be attached to a community-led approach in which local citizens and stakeholders engage in capacity building, community plans and devolved forms of local government.

ZAPU strongly believes that local assemblies working in partnership with the local people with the help of government are able to identify resources within the local area or province and transform those resources for economic and social benefit of their local community.

ZAPU will ensure that attention is given to issues of organizational and cultural change, capacity building and the hidden costs of implementing the devolution of power agenda.

ZAPU views devolution of power a constitutional matter and the prerogative can only be made by the people of Zimbabwe. ZAPU is the only party in Zimbabwe providing that choice. Legislation creating devolved assemblies will be a constitutional duty by the state.

The central government will usually retain certain core powers such as:

  • the  national constitution; provincial affairs and judiciary
  • international relations & foreign policy
  • Defence  and national security
  • nationality and immigration
  • National policing  and public order;  and Correctional services
  • Information and national broadcasting
  • National finance, tax system and monetary & economic policy planning
  • Public services and employment planning and creation
  • Exports and imports processing
  • Energy and  fuel supply broader planning

Why devolution of power?

ZAPU devolution of power heralds a significant shift in the way communities are governed free from rigid bureaucratic structures and a lack of understanding of how to engage local communities. The case for ZAPU devolved forms of governance offers the prospect of:

  • a means of giving different provinces autonomy and control over their local affairs. People will feel more secure and willing to accept the authority and legitimacy of the larger national state.
  • a means of sharing power of the wide range of different political parties and groups. The survival of democracy cannot be winner takes all system.  ZAPU believes devolution offers minority parties that cannot win control of the central government an opportunity to exercise power in some lower levels of governance. This system is therefore inclusive because it provides all political groups a share of political power at any level of governance.
  • to embrace and enhance the depth and legitimacy of democracy. Devolution of power is now a global approach to democratic principles. ZAPU believes it is not enough for people to choose their national leaders in periodic, free and fair elections without recognizing people’s democratic participation and political power at lower levels of governance.
  • Providing better quality of service delivery based on community priorities by the communities themselves.
  • Ensuring that local community programmes and budgets are better targeted at community needs and priorities.
  • Providing a localised focus for crosscutting measures, which emphasizes outcomes for citizens rather than outputs for bureaucrats
  • Presenting the opportunity for enhanced community participation and partnerships within the local community.
  • Strengthening the role of elected leaders and whose mandate is influenced by local needs and aspirations influenced by people within that locality.
  • Developing the enabling role of local authorities by involving local stakeholders and local partnerships. With devolution local communities have the advantage of adopting approaches that best suit local needs, cultural preservation, political structures and the capacity and willingness of local institutions and communities to adopt alternative forms of local devolution? It is the willingness of local authorities and central government to learn and transform their bureaucracies through clear political leadership that will determine whether the stated desired goals for more devolved forms of local governance are met.

What will people in different provinces benefit under ZAPU devolution?

  1. Power Generation and Energy

The best way to approach power generation in Zimbabwe will be to decentralize it to each province with central government offering a regulatory role. The power needs of each province are not identical. It means every province will need to set up its own generators and power management systems all the way down to a provincial grid and billing system. This will not outlaw any necessary interprovincial power lines as well as grids required for exporting/importing power as and when needed.

Each province will be equipped with the requisite infrastructure to generate, distribute and manage its own power provincially. Those provinces with greater capacity to generate excess power such, as Matabeleland North with its Hwange Thermal Power Station or Mashonaland West with its Kariba Hydro Power Station can be allowed to export their extra power to neighboring provinces if needed. There is no province in Zimbabwe without the capacity to generate power either using Solar, Thermal or Hydro power stations. Provincial administrations could enter into smart partnerships with any foreign or local investors at their discretion. This will see modern and more efficient power generation systems coming into Zimbabwe.

Other provinces such as Manicaland may take advantage of their 'Eastern Highlands' to set up wind driven turbines. There are also a number of naturally occurring waterfalls to drive turbines in Manicaland.

It only follows that once each province attains capacity to generate adequate power industries will be borne in those provinces. Construction and maintenance of every power grid is an industry on its own. A centralized government only focuses on its urban centers when it comes to electrification. A devolved ZAPU government on the other hand will enable provinces to reach out to places considered rural or remote by authorities in a centralised administration.

Zimbabwe imports all its fuels including biogas. The establishment of sugarcane plantations in Chisumbanje, Manicaland to produce ethanol for mandatory blending as a way of achieving import substitution is a positive step. However, it defies logic why the blending itself should only be done at a plant located in Harare far away from Manicaland. It further defies logic why truckloads of the Jatropha plant which thrives in Mutoko, Mashonaland East, have to be ferried to a Biodiesel Plant set up in Mt Hampden, Mashonaland West. A devolved ZAPU government would have offered to have the pipeline ending in Mutare in Manicaland where all petroleum cracking would be conducted. ZAPU believes that secondary and tertiary industries should by all means be situated near the primary resource industry.

  1. Mining

 The current mining of diamonds at Chiyadzwa in Manicaland mainly involves the export of unpolished diamonds. Calls have been made to develop and establish a cutting and polishing center of our own. A ZAPU devolved government would see such a strategic establishment being set up in Manicaland however the current centralized government is constructing the school/center for diamond cutting and polishing in Mt Hampden, Mashonaland West.

The people of Manicaland are denied the employment opportunities and revenue generated from the extraction and processing of diamonds coming from area of their habitant.

What ZAPU observes is that the people of diamond rich Marange are violently removed from their native land to pave the way to the interests of centralised government extremists.  In devolution, this resource is given to the hands of people in Manicaland so that it provides opportunities for both social and economic growth in that region and the country as a whole.

The excessive extraction of granite blocks in Mutoko, Mashonaland East has left people in Mashonaland with no benefits accrued to the local communities there. The community there has to deal with land degradation.

There is great potential for economic prosperity in mining under ZAPU devolution of power in Zimbabwe. ZAPU notes that every province in Zimbabwe has some mineral deposits of some sorts. Some of these minerals have not been exploited due to the general failures of a centralized government.

Masvingo Province has the world's richest lithium brines and clays. These can be industrially electrolyzed to derive pure lithium that can be further processed into valuable lithium-ion batteries as well as 'mood stabilizers’ medical drugs for manic depression among many other great uses.

In Silobela in the Midlands Province, there are great deposits of a lustrous gray metalloid called antimony mainly useful as alloying material for lead and tin in lead-acid batteries and plain bearings. The Great Dyke stretching about 550 kilometers from Mashonaland Central through Mashonaland West to Midlands,is yet another underutilized mineral rich landmark. The range is host to vast ore deposits, including gold, silver, chromium, platinum, nickel and asbestos. The disused gold mines in Guruve, Mashonaland Central, abandoned by German miners soon after our independence. No exploration is taking place, an economic resource that could be driving the growth of the economy. The list of neglected mineral wealth in Zimbabwe can never be exhausted in this document.

 Economic activities will increase under ZAPU devolution of power. Under ZAPU devolution, an economic resource audit will be carried out with every province to ascertain the true economic value of those provinces and decide on the best ways of resources utilization.  The local people are by right entitled to take an inventory of all economic resource available and transform those resources for their economic benefits.

  1. Farming

Zimbabwe can be divided into five distinct agricultural regions which do not necessarily follow provincial boundaries. However not all provinces enjoy adequate arable land. Matabeleland South does not have enough arable soils ideal for crop farming. Livestock farming thrives. People of Matabeleland South can prosper by selling its excellent meat produce to other provinces in Zimbabwe as well exporting to other countries. Part of the revenue generated can be used to outsource grains and other necessities into the province. This arrangement can easily promote interprovincial trade and solidify national cohesion.

Devolution of power in its true sense can effectively lead to better economic performance in every province. Value addition and Export Processing Zones are always located right next to the raw materials. It only makes sense to have a sugar refinery in Chiredzi, Masvingo Province right next to the sugarcane plantations there. Cotton farmers in Gokwe should have access to a ginnery located in their Midlands Province. Jobs opportunities created by value addition should naturally go to the people who reside in places where raw materials are extracted. Only the ZAPU devolved government can achieve such a noble arrangement.

  1. Tourism

The whole world knows Zimbabwe because we were blessed with one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’ the mighty Victoria Falls. Under a devolved state, each province in Zimbabwe has its own unique tourism package to offer both to the domestic and foreign tourist. Masvingo Province has that world famous Great Zimbabwe Ruins as well as part of the now trans-frontier park called Gonarezhou shared with Mozambique and South Africa.

Matabeleland North is the proud host to the aforementioned Victoria Falls recognized worldwide. The same province also boasts of Hwange National Park, also world renowned for its flora and fauna. There is no school of tourism or catering in Victoria Falls. These schools are situated away in bigger cities far away from the centre of activity. The prospect of local young people benefiting from jobs in tourism is very unlikely.

Manicaland has that awesome Mount Inyangani range. Mashonaland West has Kariba Dam watered by the mighty Zambezi River. Chinhoyi Caves are also in that Province. There are many other great places of interest to visit in other provinces not listed herein for the sake of brevity. A tourist to Zimbabwe is really spoilt for choice.

Tourism is a vital sector of the economy with the capacity to generate employment and revenue. Again through tourism a country can brand itself and be known in good light. ZAPU devolution actually takes this a step further by giving room for each province to be known in its own right. In order for tourism to succeed at provincial level, ZAPU devolution encourages each province to adopt its own model of tourism infra-structure and management systems. There is no need to benchmark anything as diversity becomes part of the very cause a tourist would want to visit all the provinces in turns. ZAPU devolution will encourage and strengthen the role of Eco-tourism entrepreneurship.

  1. Natural forestry and exotic woodlands

Natural woodlands that include Mukubisi and Miombo woodlands in the North Eastern Zimbabwe and hard wood forests in Matebeleland North can be a source of social and economic growth of those communities. People living adjacent to those woodlands are currently excluded from direct economic participation driving them to have little respect and value of those resource because of lack connection and ownership.

Little attention is paid to the impact of the centralised policy on woodlands use and commercialization of woodlands forests which is viewed in isolation and disconnected from the local communities. Little interventions at wider community levels have been attempted by the current government to give ownership of local forests to local communities.

ZAPU believes that the centralised approach is in variance with community development prerogatives and the situation should be addressed within the frame work of decentralization and democratization of natural resource management.

Under ZAPU devolution of power, mechanisms for promoting the sustainable use of biological biodiversity will include an enabling legislative framework which promotes the sustainable use of renewable biological resources. In devolution of power people within their provinces will have the right to forests and land resources currently belonging to the Government by decentralizing the management of those resources to local communities to fully utilize and benefit from resources located in their communities?

  1. Education, culture, tribal entities, and information

Zimbabwe is socialized and built around cultural and tribal structures, the legacy of colonial social stratification and the principle of divide and rule. Nationalism in Zimbabwe was basically a positive force, directed against colonialism during the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe but with little planning about the nature of the new social Zimbabwe after the end of colonialism. At independent Zimbabwe the new government of ZANU PF, did not attempt to address the root causes of negative tribal relations to put Zimbabwe’s unity at the top of their agenda. There was no attempt to unify diverse cultures, races and tribes at their core values.  There was no clear sense of what it meant to be a Zimbabwean.

Different tribal groups in Zimbabwe needed time and recognition to overcome historical prejudice and oppression and learn that it was possible to have a relationship with other tribal groups in which they reveal their whole selves, including their tribal identity and fallibility.  Politics in Zimbabwe has always failed to recognize, preserve and allow different ethnic groups to preserve their identity, customs and culture and yet subscribe to national identity.  Every human being seeks to preserve their identity and culture. ZAPU devolution will recognize different cultures in Zimbabwe and support communities to exercise and preserve their cultures and custom by encouraging provincial authorities to include a local language in the school curriculum. ZAPU will devolve research in history so that the historical information about Zimbabwe reflects in addition to the national history, the history of local communities and the sacrifices made by certain individuals in then struggle, politics and other spheres of life. Many people who sacrificed their lives and died during the war of liberation, particularly those at lower social structures and those from opposition parties are currently no given adequate recognition that is deserved of them.

In ZAPU devolution of power, local communities will have the right and privileges to preserve, record and store historical information about their communities within their local community in formats they see fit.

ZAPU devolution of power will open up airwaves for local television and radio stations broadcasting in local languages for local information and promotion of local culture. ZAPU devolution of power will promote the establishment of local cultural and sports centers; encourage cultural exchange with other provinces and wider world.

ZAPU devolution of power will introduce ‘equality, ethics and diversity policy’ making it a mandatory course at training institutions to embrace and strengthen appreciation of racial, tribal and cultural diversity in Zimbabwe.  Employers will be encouraged to develop its  own equality, ethics and diversity policy developed from broader aims of the equality, ethics and diversity national policy framework.

Tertiary training colleges  consistent with the economic activity in various provinces  will be established in those provinces, In ZAPU devolution of power, the  college of tourism and catering  will be situated in Victoria Falls unlike the present arrange where the colleges are in Bulawayo and Harare. The school of mining can be situated in Marange. Every province will have a college of agriculture and livestock rearing because farming is at the heart of Zimbabwe.

  1. Money and financing

ZAPU views access to selective financial credit a hindrance to economic development. In the current situation loans are only available to those with collateral and those without collateral are excluded from the financial market.  ZAPU devolution of power will devolve access and opportunities to financial assistance by strengthening the role microfinance and micro entrepreneurship. Emphasis will be made in providing financial and skills support to small entrepreneurs in lower levels of economic activities for those interested in livestock production, transportation, food production, farm equipment, borehole drilling, residential construction, educational entrepreneurs, music and culture, research and many more identified by local communities in their areas of jurisdiction.

Asymmetric devolution of power

It is important to highlight its features to dispel misconceptions held in some quarters of opposition.

 In an asymmetric approach, the devolved arrangement differs sharply between provinces. Asymmetric devolution of power therefore occurs where there is a differentiation in the degrees of autonomy and power amongst the provinces. This means that devolved provinces would constitutional and legally be treated differently in the process of administration. In the United Kingdom for example devolution is characterized by asymmetry. In Scotland exercises full autonomy in its domestic policy serve for foreign policy, defense and social security. Wales has executive territorial powers but has no powers on tax varying. Northern Ireland has some primary legislative power but has no power to raise taxes. Parliament in Westminster in England has the sovereign authority over all the territories. The territories have semi- autonomy in social and economic self-determination.

 An asymmetric devolution is therefore where a province enjoys considerably more independence than the others and may be granted a statutory autonomy to run its affairs with little interference and support from the national assemble.

The specific powers that are devolved to each province usually depend on the social and economic capacity of individual provinces and the underlying reason that the government chooses to employ an asymmetric approach.  A particular ethnic group may have heightened control over issues related to marginalisation and seek self-determination, while the other province may have more control over vital resources than others. Alternatively, depending on the particular needs and capacities of each province, different provinces in the same country may also exercise different powers and making autonomous decisions in areas devolved to them. The present ZANU PF sponsored devolution sits within the asymmetric devolution of power to prosper and foster perpetual marginalisation of other provinces

Role of ZAPU government in devolution

ZAPU programs for devolution challenges the current established centralised approaches and raises a number of practical considerations:

  • ZAPU will legislate for devolution of power to the provinces stating what emphasis should be placed on provinces and how far and how much to devolve decision-making powers to those provinces independent of national assembly such powers will be garzetted. 
  • ZAPU will provide awareness programmes on devolution. People need to be convinced that their views will be taken into account and those local authorities and other public agencies will be willing to change their ways of working and attitudes to embrace the wishes of people through constant debate and exchange of views and modalities (consultation).
  • ZAPU national assemble will play a key role  in devolving decision-making by resourcing community engagement and facilitating local flexibility, pooled budgets and auditing.
  • ZAPU devolved approach to local governance will require government structures capable of responding flexibly to local issues. It will require a long-term commitment to building community capacity, including communicating information to citizens and training to deliver community agendas, by working with local leaders, local authorities and other partners. Information technology could play a key role in this.
  • Consultation strategies will be embedded in policy-making processes so that public participation is transparent properly planned and implemented, with the responsibilities of key stakeholders and realistic assessments of expected outcomes clearly identified. This will be a means to active community involvement expected to translate into genuine forms of local devolution and changing the role of traditional representatives in politics.
  • ZAPU will formulate ways that facilitates various elements of the Government's agenda to be brought together at national, regional and local levels. Communication in this case is important to be built within an organisational structure to improve relationships and promote effective coordination within the devolved levels of governance. This will help to avoid overlaps or holes that may undermine coordination, stressing the open flow of communication that keeps the structures operating smoothly
  • There will be a need for organisational and cultural change; political and financial challenges in implementing devolved approaches. ZAPU will establish clear links between the array of emerging provincial assemblies and local authority community strategies and regeneration partnerships.
  • ZAPU will attach greater responsibility to the regional and local outposts of national assembly. Take account of local circumstances and the practical problems faced by those implementing provincial and local community management to enhance localised innovation and sustainable solutions.
  • ZAPU recognizes that additional support will be required to cover community initiatives. ZAPU will adopt a national programme for compiling data for provincial performance management and analysis and promote the use of new technologies for training and information exchange and democratic engagement. Support pilot schemes, disseminate good practice and develop new approaches to the measurement of community engagement.
  • ZAPU supports the freedom of expression and access to information. ZAPU devolution supports local media outlets which represent different tribal communities and regions. A national media legislative framework which considers multiple viewpoints undercuts the influence of a narrow single view point. The national mass media and information is crucial to the national democratic process. It is the media that informs and validates people’s understanding of what is going on within their communities. The government that controls the media and withholds information which holds the key to reaching the general public infringes the process and progress of democratic development. It is important that the mass media particularly within ZAPU devolved approach is open and transparent so that people are objectively informed to allow them to make the right choices and decisions. The freedom of the press must be balanced with its accountability and providing multiple players more importantly in devolved provinces and in the local languages to the advantage of the local people. Media monopoly should not be allowed to develop and dominate. In ZAPU devolution media pluralism ensures the provision of local media stations giving a voice to people in their local communities.
  • ZAPU supports the preservation of culture and heritage of people in various regions. Different tribal groups in Zimbabwe need time to overcome historical prejudice and oppression and learn to embrace diversity

Role of provincial and local assemblies

Local authorities will also need to decide on the form of local management structure suited to the culture and geography of that area.  These could be based on one or all of the following:

Area-based: The selection of localities of differing physical size for comprehensive, devolved forms of management covering a potentially wide range of policy areas and service delivery programmes.

Thematic, client-based approaches: A thematic approach is where the emphasis is on issues including crime and disorder, education, the environment, and housing management, unemployment and services to vulnerable people in the community.

Project-specific approaches: the quickest and easiest way of securing community engagement and results at regional and community level is when the issues are specific and project-based, for example environmental projects or economic development projects. In the longer term such schemes may act as a spur to greater community involvement.

Roles of the premiers under ZAPU devolved powers

  The primary roles of the provincial premiers among other duties will include chief legislator and chief executive; crisis manager, chief of party, inter-governmental liaison, and provincial budget holder. Please note that these roles are not exhaustive but an attempt to highlight what premiers are likely to do in a devolved government.

Chief Legislator

Given their status and stature, premiers take the lead in lawmaking endeavors in the provinces of their jurisdiction. They typically involve themselves very directly in the laws considered and passed by the state legislative body. The devolved State powers and laws offer premiers some formal tools that they can use in their legislative leader roles. 

Agenda Setting

Agenda setting for the provinces is a part of the policymaking process by identifying developmental projects requiring both provincial and governmental action. The issues are brought forward by multiple actors in those local communities, including the premier; legislative leaders lower levels of governance, interest groups, and the media.

Policy Formulation

Policy formulation is another role of the premier performs as a provincial legislature by drafting with his legislative body potential solution to identified needs in the province.

The Role of Chief Legislator in Perspective

In addition to the premiers’ role in both agenda setting and policy formulation, the premier’s role as the chief legislator is to work with others through an established process to achieve desired policy goals.

Chief Executive

The other role of the premier is that of chief executive, as this role encompasses overseeing the execution of the laws. Premiers must work with the state bureaucracy to carry out the laws. They are responsible for managing the bureaucracy.

Managing the Bureaucracy

Premiers must strive to create a degree of coherence in order to pursue their policy goals. Premiers must interact with many other actors in pursuit of the chief executive role. Various important actors, both inside and outside government, must be recognized and sometimes attended to.

Chief of State

The chief of state is more symbolic status. The premier represents and embodies the state. He or she is the focal point for internal and external observers of the state.

Crisis Manager

Although not a constant job for the premier, however, when this role is called for, it will most likely dominate his or her time and attention until the crisis at hand is settled. These may include calls to protect the public or to work to heal their wounds. Premiers must respond to crises, both natural and man-made. The premier as crisis manager is filling both a managerial and a symbolic role.

Chief of Party

Another primary role of premiers is that of chief of party. This role is not an official job of the office; it grows naturally from the premier’s position as the provincial highest elective officer.  Where the two or more parties are competitive in a province this role is very significant for both the power of the premier and the role of the party in the state. However, merely carrying the party label does not guarantee a premier strong support from electorate. The important thing is to connect the needs of the people and alongside the people to meet their needs and aspirations.

Intergovernmental Liaison

Some of the responsibilities of premiership are exercised between the provincial and between district councils and the national assemble. In a devolve country the decisions made by one level of government often have a substantial impact on the other levels, which means it is vital  for  premiers to pay attention to what other levels of governance are doing so that their role as a conduit and link  between levels of governance.

Budget Power

The power to craft the budget is critically important for the role of the premier. Influence over the budget can translate into significant influence over the policy direction of the national assemble, since spending priorities ultimately equal policy priorities.

The budget as it unveils spending plans requires the premier, councils and the national legislature to work together. Premiers are in charge of preparing the budget and submitting it to the legislature.

Key issues for effectively devolved governance

ZAPU will establish the needs, priorities and aspirations of communities and individual; Local devolution implies that the needs, priorities and aspirations of local communities are identified and a set of actions agreed with the key organisations responsible for meeting local needs. Projects are best suited where needs and priorities are easily defined. Communities are aware of what resources are available in their communities. Communities will be supported in technology to transform those resources to meet their needs.  With experience, and increasing self-confidence, lessons can be transferred to more complex forms of community development projects.

ZAPU will help in building community capacity: promoting participation: Local communities can apply a range of participation techniques which may be used to stimulate inclusive local involvement in decision-making, implementation and capacity building. The experience of achievement by the local community may cultivate the interest for participation in successive projects. The scope, realistic outcomes and the time period of the exercise should be clear from the outset, the responsibilities of the local authority, councillors and other stakeholders defined and communities reassured that their views will count. A considerable commitment in terms of time, money and change in bureaucratic habits is required if communities are to become active participants. The network of intermediary bodies which assist local communities’ needs strengthening and consideration will be given to creating a government-supported fund, to facilitate community engagement. The key lesson is that participation is not a one-off exercise and building community capacity requires resources and a sustained commitment.

ZAPU will enhance and legitimize the role of elected members: ZAPU devolved approach to community management present opportunities and challenges for elected premiers or councillors. It allows them to be more involved  and in contact with local issues, but may be a source of conflict if their priorities, those of the community and local authority staff, assigned to help to deliver community priorities, do not match. Roles, responsibilities and declarations of interest of different constituents of the community are vital to provide clarity of goals.

ZAPU is committed to improving service delivery: Service delivery should be improved if account is taken of community views. Local authorities and other public agencies will need to develop new skills to work with local communities. Attention will also be given to resolving competing local interests and balancing local priorities with the need for an equitable distribution of resources and effective service delivery across a wider area of the community.

ZAPU will develop the enabling role of local authorities: Local devolution may accelerate the process in which local authorities become 'enablers' rather than direct service providers, as authorities begin to support cross-cutting and capacity building measures, through strategic and local partnerships. This will require innovative ways of working, including networking skills, multi-disciplinary working and new approaches to accountability.

ZAPU intends to produce better 'joined-up' working: Political and institutional commitment to 'joined-up' working is essential if it is to succeed. National assembly has a key role to play in devolving decision-making in its own structures and facilitating flexibility and pooled budgets at local levels.

ZAPU will devolve budgets for provinces proportionate: The concept of devolution will encourage local authorities and national authorities to examine new approaches of financial resource allocation.

Funding may be provided to the devolved provinces from the government as a block grant. This means once the money is received by the devolved provincial legislature, it can be spent on any devolved responsibility as the province see fit .

The amounts of grants in the devolved budgets may be determined by the Barnett formula, which provides them with size of the population. The formula gives the devolved provinces a proportionate share of spending on ‘comparable’ functions, given their populations compared to other provinces. Devolved provinces be granted powers to generate their own revenue say by imposing local taxes.

 A provincial legislature may impose taxes, levies and duties other than income tax, value-added tax, general sales tax, rates on property or customs duties. The power of a provincial legislature to impose taxes, levies, duties and surcharges may not be exercised in a way that materially and unreasonably prejudices national economic policies, economic activities across provincial boundaries, or the national mobility of goods, services, capital or labour. It must be regulated in terms of legislation enacted on a Financial and Fiscal considerations made by the national assemble.

ZAPU encourages innovation: Encouraging innovation is easiest when people understand and relate to the objectives and required outcomes. As complexity increases innovation all too often takes the form of process changes and outcomes for residents are replaced by more easily measurable outputs.  ZAPU devolved governance is dependent on innovations - 'doing things differently' - that deliver better, more accountable and transparent outcomes

Disparities in the current Zimbabwe government version of devolution

Section 264 of the new Zimbabwe constitution refers to devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities. The new constitutional obligation on devolution has not taken off ground and no steps have been taken to enact the enabling law or capacitate the relevant entities towards implementation of the provision.

The contrast between what ZAPU and the present version of Zimbabwe government devolution of power is, is that ZAPU has five devolved provinces namely; Mashonaland, Matabeleland, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland. The Zimbabwe Government constitution provides for devolution to ten authorities (including metropolitan councils).  The decision for devolution with the Zimbabwe government devolution appears to depend on the economic performance of those provinces and such decision remains at the discretion of central government. “(1) whenever appropriate, governmental powers and responsibilities must be devolved to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities that are competent to carry out those responsibilities efficiently and effectively”. This constitution is silent about what and how much to devolve. The discretion is left to the government as it sees it fit. The current Zimbabwe devolution appears to fit in the concept of Asymmetrical devolution featuring mainly delegated power.

 It is argued that ZAPU’s demarcation of five provincial governments jurisdiction will result in a more economically and socially viable and sustainable local governments than the current ten smaller provinces in the current Zimbabwe devolution approach. The view is that smaller provinces may struggle to generate revenue for themselves because of a narrow resource base. ZAPU’s approach to devolution is symmetrical. No province is discriminated. All provinces are treated and supported in the same way. ZAPU believes that all provinces have enough resources and intellectual capacity to manage their affairs. ZAPU will provide relevant support to any province where deficiency in management and financial capacity is identified. ZAPU considers this a duty and mandate to implement in terms of the law and constitution.

The current Zimbabwe government constitution implies that the government can pick and choose which authorities would have devolved power and what to devolve.  That means that they will be variations of the kind of devolution from one province to the other.  It appears some provinces may never see the light of devolution and the benefits of localism. This has the effect of perpetuating opportunities for marginalising other provinces that would be by default viewed to be incompetent by central government. The current government devolution of power gives the minister of local government powers to dissolve local government authorities if the minister felt that those councils are incompetent. This kind power vested in the minister is prone to abuse and patronage.

The current government constitution on devolution provides for provincial councils headed by a chairperson who will be selected from the party with the highest number of seats in the province. ZAPU on the other hand advocates for elected provincial Premiers. The current government devolution of power fails to provide people with real political power and greater political participation.


Fears for devolution of power

Opponents of devolution are wary that, in the context of assumed deep ethnic and regional divisions, devolution will lead to the break-up of the country. The former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia are some of the examples that can be cited.  Divided countries have disintegrated at crucial moments precisely because they did not develop over time democratic means for the devolution of power that knitted  ethnic groups together in a more authentic, voluntary, and legitimate political union. 

When groups are held together in a country mainly by force and fear, anxious minority social groups would seek to secede from a central government power to free themselves from marginalisation and at times physical abuse. The people in Matabeleland generally feel vulnerable particularly to the effects of the Matabeleland Gukurahundi envision. The prevailing ideology and interpretation held by people of Matabeleland of the Gukurahundi genocide is that of suppression of one tribe by the other; an act of ethnic cleansing and desire for political dominance and control by the then perpetrator ZANU PF party dominated by people from northern Zimbabwe whose main language is Shona.  The violent takeover by ZANU PF of farms owned by Zimbabwe white farmers is symbolic to a deep rooted racial division in Zimbabwe and a culture of revenge. The 2008 destruction of dwellings for Zimbabwe urban residents, code named Murambatswina was a deliberate violation of people’s dignity intentionally forcing people to relocate to rural areas where ZANU PF believed they had the influence to direct the votes in their favour. No one is completely free from aggression and violation of rights under ZANU PF rule.

By contrast, when the national government, under a new political circumstance that attend the formation of a new democratic system, makes an early and sincere grant of autonomy, the consequence is almost always greater stability and unity, rather than social disintegration.  ZAPU devolution of power is meant to correct this disparate caused at Zimbabwe’s independence ZANU PF government.  Devolution is a successful case in India, Spain, Mexico, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Nigeria.  By contrast, countries like Sudan, Iraq, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka have paid a heavy price in civil war and massive violence for the failure to accommodate aspirations for devolution.

It is in this light that ZAPU views constitutional political and administrative devolution a propensity to embrace diverse social, political, tribal and racial groups by sincerely tapping on the strength of what diversity can achieve for the development of Zimbabwe as recognition of diversity instills as sense of belonging and pride to be Zimbabwean.


Devolution of power can be interpreted as:

Power to the people by giving them certain national legislative powers at lower levels of governance

Multi-party democracy prospers under devolution of power. Meaningful political participation is devolved to the grass roots.

There should be governance by majority rule and by consent. The constitution is supreme and the law is respected. The results of the elections should be respected and only elected members seat in parliament.

Local services for local solutions: The service delivery and local investment are the prerogative of the local legislatures.

Local ownership of local resources: The local resources are an investment for local communities, acting as vehicle for industrial growth and employment for the local population. This approach helps in encouraging indigenous entrepreneurship participation in the economy.

Constitution by the people and for the people: Governance by the will of the people: People are central in policy formulation, decision making and policy implementation from lower levels to high levels of governance. It’s people centred governance

National governance built around local needs, aspirations, human & social justice, security, national and international obligations

In devolution of power, the government does not:

  • Create jobs; people create jobs.  While there are jobs in the civil service, government creates conditions that are conducive to investment and employment creation
  • Lead the people; people lead the government. People tell the government what they need using established forms of communication and through devolved assembles.  A consultative approach and exchange of views is important using  established formal devolved communication structures and channels for expression of opinions and needs
  • Make the law; people make the law through a process of consultative forums and referendums. The government helps its citizens by formulating the laws that are desired by the people; interpreting and implementing those laws to protect and safe guard the rights of citizens to achieve justice for all.

The ownership of the land and its resource belongs to the people. Everybody has a stake in the ownership of the land.


Devolution, under ZAPU offers real and practical localism in tackling local economic, social and environmental issues. It challenges local assemblies to be innovative; to be radical; to seek to achieve and deliver better results at the local level which joins up to improve the economy of the country as a whole.

ZAPU sincerely believes that devolution of power is a source of tackling unemployment, economic marginalisation, poverty, tribal tensions and migration of people from less economic active regions to industrialised regions

ZAPU strives to take advantage of several advantages that come with devolution of power. Devolution of power allows provincial and local assemblies autonomy within the scope of national unity and self-determination; people from different provinces control resources within their locality and transform them at the pace determined by them; It grants special recognition to peoples with strong identities within the state and can make them feel at ease with their identity and to be proud of the cultural heritage and the culture of others, patriotic to their country and welling to safe guard and defend it. Parliament remains sovereign. The devolved institutions have political legitimacy and are a vital part of governance. 

Researched and compiled by Themba Mthethwa

Zapu Newsletter Subscriber

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