Back to Index
Address to Mbare Stakeholders' Conference
society is not a new concept but it is one that is regaining popular
support as people realise that they need to take action to arrest
the decline in our society on all levels. For too long we have been
content to let "leaders" tell us what to do or what is good for
us and now that we can see where this has led us, we realise that
we have to take responsibility for our lives, our community and
of a community is a guardian of the rules and values of that society.
If we as individuals do not guard the society in which we live,
the very fabric of society will erode and disappear. However if
these rules are made by people with no concern for our well-being,
then how can we respect such rules?
first step is to assert ownership of the rules of our society and
this is where residents' associations play such an important role
- in re-establishing citizens as the primary members of society
- not politicians, not officials but ordinary people who pay taxes,
rates and charges. These are the people who should determine the
future of our city. The officials who treat you with such rudeness
when you query your account must be made to realise that they are
our employees and are there to serve our needs - you are not a nuisance
to be chased away while they sit out the gap between paydays.
are major problems trying to confront such officials as an indivdual.
When you are out in the country and you sit under a tree to rest,
if an ant bites you, you merely crush it between your fingers but
if there is a whole ant's nest, you will get up and move. Equally
with civic matters, until you have the support of your fellow citizens,
you will fight a lonely battle indeed, one you will often lose.
open up a way to communicate with officials that cannot be ignored
in the way that an indivdual can be. The official that is brave
enough to do so will not last long in his job because he will provke
the anger of the community and will no longer be able to carry out
The first step
then is to ensure that your community is in support of the residents
association. You cannot do this unless you engage the community,
reflecting their wishes, dealing with their problems. Regular, open
and democratic public meetings are essential. Find a community project
like clean-ups or vegetable gardening that can show the community
that you do not only spend time talking.
must not be a clique of self-serving would-be politicians using
the residents association to get ahead or as a starting point to
election to council.
A good measure
of how democratic an Association might be is to look at how they
deal with opposition. Does your committee shout a lot and does the
loudest voice win the debate? It is said that an empty drum makes
the most noise and those that shout loudest are normally the least
helpful members of society, interested only in their own agendas.
A democrat listens to criticism and uses it to improve his or her
association must represent a wide range of views since its members
are only united by geography - if your residents association allows
itself to be used to push a party political agenda, it will not
be representing the community and may in fact end up damaging the
very community that it is intended to help. This is not to say that
you should be afraid of so-called political issues - the very act
of levying rates is political because politics is really about who
gets what in society and if the Council takes our money to spend,
that is itself a political act. The fact that roads are maintained
in Borrowdale but not Mbare is a political decision. So do not get
side-tracked or disheartened by those who say they won't join your
residents association because it's "political" - just reply "yes
- so what?".
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.