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Bazinga! A fool's guide to devolution in the draft charter

by Kingdom of Matebeleland
31 January 2013 | 3457 Views
* 'Bazinga' is a recreation of 'zing', meaning 'to fool' and comes from the fictional character of Sheldon Cooper in the US comedy series The Big Bang Theory. The series editors prefixed the word with 'ba' and suffixed it with 'a' to create the word 'bazinga'.

The first point to note about devolution proper as opposed to make-believe devolution is that devolution is established by Referendum. It has to because devolution represents a significant and far-reaching constitutional re-organization of a State.

To give an example: in the United Kingdom, two referenda were held for Scotland and Wales in September 1997. In both cases a majority of voters chose devolution. Those referenda then gave birth to two Devolution Acts. These were the Scotland Act 1998 for Scotland and the Government of Wales Act 1998 (later changed by the Government of Wales Act 2006) for Wales. In Northern Ireland devolution was provided for in the Good Friday Agreement. A Referendum of Northern Irelanders in May 1998 voted for devolution. In South Africa next door, devolution was adopted as part of the Referendum on the Constitution of South Africa. Even today, the UK has promised an 'in-out' Referendum to 'devolve' from the EU.

No such Referendum is proposed by the Copac Final Draft. So there cannot be devolution to speak of at all.

The second point is that the Referenda create Devolved Assemblies, which are the political authorities of the Devolved Assemblies. So in the UK, the Scotland Act established the Scottish Parliament; the Government of Wales Act, the Welsh Assembly, and the Good Friday Agreement the Northern Ireland Assembly. In South Africa, the Constitution established Provincial Parliaments.

No such Parliaments are established by the Copac Final Draft. The Copac Final Draft proposes Provincial Councils which is a completely different thing which does not create a structure for devolution. So, again, there is no devolution to talk of.

The third point is that Devolved Assemblies are elected directly by the People of that devolved Political Authority. So, Members of the Scottish Parliament; Members of the Welsh Assembly; and Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are elected by the people of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland -respectively - using different electoral systems. In South Africa next door, Members of Provincial Parliaments are elected by peoples of the Provinces.

Instead of having Members of the Provincial Councils elected directly by the people of the Provinces, the Copac Final Draft packs the Provincial Councils with Members of the National Assembly, Senators, Chiefs, Mayors etc - persons already elected or appointed elsewhere. Only 10 members of the Provincial Council are to be elected by the people of the Province.

There is therefore no devolution where the people of the Province cannot and do not directly elect their representatives in the Provinces.

The fourth point is that devolution establishes Devolved Administrations - in other words - governments of the Devolved Assemblies.

In the UK, three governments are established as Devolved Administrations. These are the Scottish Government; the Welsh Government; and the Northern Ireland Executive. In South Africa next door there are nine (9) Provincial Governments established by the South African Constitution.

Unsurprisingly, the Copac Draft Constitution is completely silent on what the Devolved Administrations will be. So, again, there is no devolution to talk of in the Copac Final Draft.

The fifth point relates to the head of the Devolved Government.

In the UK, the head of Government of the Devolved Administrations are the First Minister of Scotland; the First Minister of Wales; and the First Minister of Northern Ireland. In South Africa next door, Premiers are head of Provincial Governments. All of these are elected directly by their peoples. The Copac Final Draft establishes Provincial Governors as head of Provincial Councils. The Provincial Governors are a totally different thing and are not a structure of devolved government. Further, Provincial Governors will NOT be elected by the people of the Province but will be APPOINTED by the President, who can also fire them.

In the UK and South Africa the heads of Devolved Administrations are public offices. The Copac Final Draft claims, falsely, that: "The office of Provincial Governor is a public office …"The reality is that the Provincial Governor is a party apparatchik - not elected directly by the people of the Province - forwarded by a political party to the President for appointment as Provincial Governor. A provincial Office is then created and described generally as 'a public office'. In truth, this is not a public office but an office of political patronage.

It should therefore be clear from the foregoing that the apparatus of devolution is totally absent in the Copac Final Draft. This is not surprising. The Copac Final Draft does not create devolution at all, and makes no attempt to do so, as shown below. However, the Copac Final Draft is happy to knowingly mislead and deceive the public by the sprinkling of the word 'devolution' when it knows fully well that it is not establishing devolution at all. The correct and honest thing would have been to leave out use of the word 'devolution' altogether. Let us now turn to the operative terms of the Copac Final Draft Constitution in regard to devolution.

Firstly, the Copac Final Draft Constitution does not create devolved government. It creates instead 'devolved' (it doesn't even do it) governance. These two are different, though related, terms. If government is the elected body of representatives with political power then governance is the process by which those elected govern. To further clarity, if government is about elected power then governance is about how that elected power implements its power (ie, its bureaucracy). The Copac Final Draft is a disguise for bureaucracy.

The Copac Final Draft Constitution only 'devolves' (it doesn't) governmental powers and responsibilities to provincial councils (note, not government but governmental powers), in order "to give powers of local governance to the people." In other words, government's bureaucracy. And, Provincial Councils are there to "ensure good governance." [Chapter 14.2 (1)]. Clearly, this is 'decentralization' of its bureaucracy, not devolution of government.

Secondly, the Copac Draft Constitution does NOT even provide for Provincial Councils, watered down as the whole thing is. The Copac Final Draft only establishes a constitutional power for government to do so - "whenever appropriate" [Chapter 14.1 (1)]. So there may or may not be any Provincial or Metropolitan Council established at all after all. However, even if the drafters were to drop this phrase it would not change anything in substance as the whole structure for devolution is clearly absent in the Copac Final Draft Constitution.

But there is another political hand being dealt devolution by the Copac Final Draft Constitution, and this is the establishment of Metropolitan Councils as separate from Provincial Councils. The political hand is both to separate and to divide - that is, separate and divide the People of the Kingdom of Matebeleland.

As a separate Metropolitan Council, Bulawayo, the political engine-room of the Kingdom of Matebeleland, is dismembered from the rest of the political body politic of the Kingdom of Matebeleland. At the same time, the Metropolitan Council of Bulawayo is established to rival the Provincial Councils of Matebeleland as a Council and for the political patronage of Harare. The People of Matebeleland are not of course not be fooled by the political distraction provided by the Harare Metropolitan Council!

But the political sledge-hammer must remain the sentence: "An Act of Parliament must provide for the establishment, structure and staff of provincial and metropolitan councils, and the manner in which they exercise their functions." This is a catch-all sentence, and politically dangerous.

Bear in mind that the Copac Final Draft Constitution does not in and of itself establish Provincial Councils, let alone devolved government. Whether there is a Provincial Council is going to be on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis and no Provincial Council, if established at all, will be the same with another or others. So, straight-away there is an in-built arbitrariness about the establishment of Provincial Councils which is open to political manipulation, abuse and misuse.

For Provincial Councils established in the Kingdom of Matebeleland, if ever, one can be sure that such Councils will be so politically emaciated that they serve no other purpose than legitimize maShona tribal rule and tribal domination of the Ndebele People and the Ndebele Nation.

Politically, and critically, it is easy to see how the crunching tentacles of the President have been re re-established and re-strengthened over the People - via the Provinces - by this Copac Final Draft Constitution. At the end of the day, the Copac Final Draft Constitution deals the People of the Kingdom of Matebeleland this suffocating centralization and concentration of power in the centre - and in one person - the President. With this make-believe version of devolution the Copac Final Draft has achieved its purpose, which it so eloquently and publicly pronounces as preserving two non-existents - 'national unity' and the 'indivisibility' of Zimbabwe. In the view of the Shona rulers of present-day Zimbabwe, devolution and secession/partition demanded by the People of the Kingdom of Matebeleland in the pre-'deal' Copac Draft has been dealt a knock-out blow.

This Copac Final Draft Constitution is clearly intended to deceive the People of Matebeleland on the critical political issue of devolution which the People of the Kingdom of Matebeleland said they wanted. To foreclose political scrutiny of this tribal ambush presented as a so-called 'deal' the Shona rulers of present-day Zimbabwe have hurried to hide away this deception by clothing it in the dress of a draft constitution - now called the Copac Final Draft Constitution.

The reality is therefore not that the People of present-day Zimbabwe are presented with a Draft Constitution. The true political reality is that the People of the Kingdom of Matebeleland have been presented with a political fait accompli dressed in constitutional garb. This is wholly unacceptable, improper, and wrong. Constitutions should not target or be aimed at any one People, such as this Copac Final Document is targeted at the People of the Kingdom of Matebeleland.
Devolution


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Source: Kingdom of Matebeleland

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