Government has approved the long awaited National Decentralisation Policy which will empower provinces and districts manage their own affairs for effective social economic development.
The new decentralisation policy would promote people’s participation in democratic governance at the local level.
The policy would also promote participation of chiefs and other traditional leaders in governance and preservation of cultural and heritage, whilst respecting cultural diversity.
Local Government and Housing minister Emerine Kabanshi announced the approval of the new decentralisation policy during a press briefing held at her office in Lusaka yesterday.
Ms Kabanshi said Cabinet approved the new national decentralisation policy during its meeting held in February this year.
Ms Kabanshi was, however, quick to mention that not all functions would be transferred to the councils, but that Central Government shall retain some core functions over essential national matters.
“The central government shall also continue to build capacity in councils for them to improve performance of such core functions as planning and budgeting, personnel and financial management,” she said.
She said the Government through Cabinet office shall also provide leadership and direction to implementation of devolution and implementation of the national decentralisation policy.
The minister called on stakeholders to take keen interest in the implementation of the policy, which sought to ensure that benefits of government programmes accrued to citizens regardless of political affiliation, cultural and economic status or indeed gender.
She said Government had this year embarked on devolution of some central government functions to cities, municipal and district councils in a phased manner.
“Government places great importance on local government, as it is the engine for delivering public infrastructure and services, local economic development and participation,” Ms Kabanshi said.
She said the decentralisation policy would bring about benefits such as the political stability which would be secured by active participation of the local people in developmental activities.
People would also participate in politics through voting and other governance practices such as civic education and democratic accountability.
She said the policy would empower provinces, districts and communities to achieve effective social economic development.
“The policy will also promote cooperative governance with the national government, provincial administration, provincial assemblies and local authorities to support and enhance the development role of local government,” she said.
She urged the media to help the ministry inform and educate the public on the implementation of the policy which had already commenced with the creation of districts.
The vision of the National decentralisation Policy was to promote a decentralised system of governance within a unitary State and the mission statement was to promote decentralised and democratically elected systems of governance which enhanced community participation.