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Mliswa calls for Moyo to be arrested over US$389m devolution funds

The Ministry of Local Government has admitted it is operating illegally by distributing devolution funds without a disbursement plan that is supposed to be created under an Act of Parliament.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube last year doubled the financial allocation towards the devolution programme and set aside ZWL42,5 billion (US$388 888 889 according to the official rate of the time) for 2022, up from ZWL19,5 billion that was set aside for 2021.

The funds are supposed to be directed primarily towards transport and related infrastructure, education, health, electricity, social amenities, water and sanitation projects.

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Vice President Tendai Biti
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Vice President Tendai Biti

Harare East MP Tendai Biti on Wednesday asked Local Government Deputy Minister Marian Chombo how the government was disbursing devolution funds without any legal framework supporting the formula it is using.

Biti asked: “Madam Speaker Ma’am, the disbursement of devolution funds provided by Section 301 presupposes the existence of an Act of Parliament – that Act of Parliament is not there. How are they distributing devolution funds when that Act of Parliament is not there?

“Secondly Hon. Speaker Ma’am, why 11 years after the enactment of that Constitution have they failed to bring a law to Parliament dealing with devolution, Chapter 14 of the Constitution?”

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Local Government Deputy Minister Marian Chombo
Local Government Deputy Minister Marian Chombo

Chombo responded by admitting the anomaly saying the Ministry was working on a Bill to regularise the way ZWL42,5 billion devolution funds were being distributed.

“Thank you Hon. Speaker and thank you very much Hon. Biti for those questions. Definitely, we have been working on the Bill. We do not control the pace; it had to go back and forth. We are very sincere in whatever we do.

“Of course, there is not yet an Act to disburse the funds but given the situation, these councillors were elected in the last election – they are there. So we are using them to disburse the funds but I hear you that there is no Instrument in place but we had to weigh the options.

“Do we just keep the money and not develop the communities until that legal Instrument is in place? For sure, the Attorney-General as I said is seized with that Bill, and it is coming to Parliament very soon,” she said.

Her response got Norton legislator Temba Mliswa warning her that what the Ministry was doing was illegal. He threatened to call the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to arrest her and July Moyo, the Minister responsible.

“She has submitted for the first time that they are acting illegally, and ZACC should be standing outside to get you arrested with your accomplice July Moyo – that is where you should be.

“I want to call ZACC to arrest you! Mauraya nyika, mbavha dzevanhu! Kuswera muchiba mari naJuly Moyo uko, mabvuma kuti hamhuna Statutory Instrument. Muchapinda mujeri zvamusati mawona!” Mliswa blasted before he was stopped by the Speaker of Parliament.