Government has noted with satisfaction that the decentralisation process has in the past two years gained considerable momentum so as to enable relevant authorities to start devolving some functions from central government to councils this year.
Local Government and Housing Minister Emerine Kabanshi said once the legal review process is finalised, the government will commence devolution of functions in 2014.
Ms. Kabanshi was speaking during the awarding ceremony of the international competition for the best architectural design of the renovation and expansion of Chalimbana Local Government Training Institute at the Germany Ambassador’s residence in Lusaka yesterday.
She said with the support from the Germany government, a number of milestones in decentralisation have been attained such as the revision and launch of the national decentralisation policy which was launched in 2013.
Ms. Kabanshi said the review of the decentralisation policy was necessitated by the need to ensure that the policy reflected the thoughts of the new government as outlined in the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto.
She said following the launch of the decentralisation policy, countrywide sensitisations that targeted councillors, provincial and district heads of departments on the policy were conducted.
She said the review of the local government act was also done to accommodate the decentralisation process and that the revision of the decentralisation plan to reflect the mission, new objectives and the vision of the revised national decentralisation policy have also been done to provide a detailed road map for the policy implementation.
Ms. Kabanshi said other milestones scored include the completion of the development of devolution plans by ministries whose functions are to be devolved, the development of guidelines for the creation of ward development committees and the decentralised district planning manual.
The rest include the review and approval of organisation structures for councils to accommodate new functions in local authorities and the creation and operationalisation of new districts which have brought government closer to the people.
She said these milestones are a clear indication of the progress that the government is making in preparing to devolve some functions to councils.
And Ms. Kabanshi said Chalimbana training institute should be transformed into a centre of excellence that offers appropriate training not only to local government practitioners but to the entire public.
Chalimbana has been the main remaining training institute in the country with a clear public mandate to offer training to local government functionaries.
Ms. Kabanshi thanked the Germany government for the support it is rendering to renovate and expand the training institute.
She said government attaches great value to the partnership between Zambia and Germany as the two countries work towards poverty reduction.
Meanwhile, Germany Ambassador to Zambia Bernd Finke said the promotion of local government structures was a central pillar of the two countries’ common goal to further fight poverty in the country by bringing public services and development closer to the people.
Ambassador Finke said Germany’s agenda in Zambia has always been guided by its commitment to fundamental good governance principles such as the rule of law, democracy, and the promotion of human rights, inclusive economic growth and welfare whose goal is to alleviate poverty.
He said the attainment of these objectives can be facilitated by a well structured decentralisation process which is supported by the necessary political commitment at the highest levels.
The envoy further noted that decentralisation has proved to be a key driver of innovation to adapt to changing environments in a strongly globalised world.