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Bulawayo Agenda activity update
Bulawayo Agenda

October 02, 2013

Public Accountability Platform - Lupane (Masenyane)

At least two hundred and fifty Menyezwa ward villagers thronged the Indaba Tree near Masenyane Primary School in Lupane to attend a Public Accountability Platform convened by Lupane Agenda, a chapter of Bulawayo Agenda on the 24th of September, 2013. The newly elected Menyezwa Ward Councilor, former Councilor, former Senator, the newly elected Member of Parliament and local structures such as the Ward Development Committee (WADCO) had been invited to account for the previous tenure of office and outline plans for the present and future developmental challenges. The current Member of Parliament was the only invited speaker who failed to make it as the meeting coincided with the first session of the 8th Parliament. Below are highlights of issues that emerged from the meeting;

  • The ward 14 councilor (Mr Mpofu) outlined his 5 year plan that includes constitution of ‘strong’ Ward Development Committee (WADCO) and Village Development Committee (VIDCO) among other plans to which he committed to account.
  • The villagers applauded the initiative and urged local leaders (Councilor, MP, Senators etc) to chart a different mode of engagement with the communities so as to enhance accountability and community participation.
  • Villagers expressed fears of exclusion from participating in public processes as polarization is likely to see elected leaders remaining partisan rather than being magnanimous and inclusive in various activities such as food aid distribution and other social issues.

Citizen Forum - Lupane (Mzola)

More than 100 villagers from Mzola 27, Central and Nono villages attended a Citizen Forum held at Mzola 5 Primary School on the same date as above (24 September) to assess the state of the community in terms of practices of key development actors vis-à-vis the obtaining situation in as far as service delivery is concerned. This would then inform community-driven initiatives to address the gaps needing some change of practices by certain development actors to address some challenges. Below are key highlights of the meeting:

Access to health facilities…

Villagers complained that the Local Health Officer’s station was turned into a political party ‘Command Centre’ thus condemning the villagers to continued suffering of having to travel around 40kms to the nearest clinic. On this issue, the villagers cited the need to tone down political activity which had taken precedence over development thus further polarizing their community and hampering any potential for magnanimity of public officials and constructive engagements.

On management of natural resources…

Villagers cited the need to hold the public officials to account over the logging of timber in the area and extraction of deposits of methane gas in the area while the communities remain in even deeper poverty as the companies’ activities have remained opaque. The local authority, i.e. Kusile Rural District Council has also reportedly received far too little and/or failed to show anything as the roads and schools remain in a deplorable state.

State of the Community Forum - Matopo

Close to a hundred villagers from Shumbeshabe village in Ward 16, other villages in ward 23 and ward 17 attended a Matopo Agenda (Bulawayo Agenda Chapter) State of the Community Forum at the Presbyterian Church hall in Nathisa on the 25th of September, 2013. Councilors for ward 16, 17 and 23 were in attendance to outline their roles, development plans and the state of the community regarding working relationships among key stakeholders in the district.

The purpose of the meeting was to then assess the community regarding the capacities, attitudes, practices and policies of local public institutions and officials so as to identify opportunities for leveraging positives and ways of facilitating positive engagements among stakeholders who lead development initiatives.

Below are highlights of the issues that emerged during the discussions:

Clarity of roles for different stakeholders…

There is embedded lack of clarity in terms of duties for Ward Development Committees (WADCO), Village Development Committees (VIDCO), the Chief, Councilors and other development structures and this has caused immense stagnation. A plea was made to Bulawayo Agenda for Capacity Building and All Stakeholders platforms to facilitate critical conversations and build consensus for enhanced development in the ward/district.

On revenue collection and development of district…

  • The villagers bemoaned the weaknesses and leakages and/or lack of transparency in the revenue collection and management. The community is adjacent to the Matopos National Park and there are vast gold deposits that are exploited with limited remittances and/or corporate social responsibility. The community cited the authorities’ objection to the setting up of a local ‘toll-gate’ to cash-in on cultural tourism where tourists go beyond the National Park to ‘photograph’ them and their homes.
  • The villagers thus urged their councilors and Member of Parliament to pursue legislative means and exercise strategic leadership to ensure that the locality is developed from the natural resources found in the area.
  • The community has also seen politicization of Ward Development Committees (WADCO) and Village Development Committees (VIDCO) as they are constituted after elections instead of that being done prior to the holding of general elections to avoid their politicization which affects their effectiveness and magnanimity.

Access to justice…

The community members also highlighted the difficulties in accessing justice in a politically polarized environment. The local, traditional courts have been politicized thus further dividing the community and hampering the creation of an environment that promotes development.

Civic Leaders Meeting - Masvingo

On Friday the 27th of September, Bulawayo Agenda, through its Masvingo chapter, Masvingo Agenda, facilitated a Civil Leaders meeting in the province as a platform for contextual analysis and strategizing for movement rejuvenation and robust citizen engagement to hold the new government to account.

The meeting looked at the socio-political environment, i.e. opportunities for consolidation and advancement of the incremental democratic gains. More than 30 Leaders of key organisations working in the human rights and governance and humanitarian sectors in Masvingo attended the meeting and shared their perspectives.

Some of the key issues discussed bordered around re-positioning civic activism in the face of possibilities of democratic regression and/or unparalleled need for holding the Government to account. The leaders thus came up with strategies of cooperation among civil society organisations, engaging the communities and the new Government.

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