Community leaders in Zaka and Gutu have vowed to engage citizens in a bid to promote good governance and improve service delivery in local communities. This was revealed during a Duty bearer’s training workshop in Zaka and Gutu which was conducted by Heal Zimbabwe in partnership with Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) from the 12th to the 15th of September 2018. The major aim of the training was to capacitate duty bearers and raise awareness on their constitutional obligations as custodians of local communities in grassroots level policy engagement and accountability. The training was attended by a total of 48 community leaders who hold different portfolios within the local communities. The portfolios include 19 traditional leaders, 10 School Development Committee members, 6 Village health workers, 3 councillors, 2 clinic committee members, 1 Agritex officer and 2 Action for Accountability group leaders.
The Duty Bearers trainings come at a time after community members were first trained in Social accountability and policy engagement and later initiated awareness raising campaigns that were conducted in various communities. The training saw duty bearers being capacitated in key concepts in social accountability in line with their roles and responsibilities. Issues raised during the trainings include lack of knowledge on the roles and responsibilities of community leaders which makes it very difficult for them to engage communities on key developmental issues within their communities resulting in human rights abuses, corruption and underdevelopment. “Lack of knowledge especially on the roles and responsibilities of a leader, be it a village head, councillor or SDC representative undermines service delivery and leads to human rights abuses”said Zaka ward 33 Councillor Peter Imbayarwo. Participants also noted that lack of such knowledge also perpetuated a culture of misinformation among community members.
Community leaders embraced the training and highlighted that it will go a long way in improving the capacity of leaders in service delivery. Major challenges raised include the interference of political figures such as Legislators and political parties in the execution of their duties which affect the smooth implementation of developmental initiatives. As such the duty bearers who attended the trainings recommended that similar trainings be offered to Legislators and Provincial Ministers so that they initiate policies that help curb vices such as corruption thereby promoting transparency and accountability. Community leaders further resolved to conduct consultative and feedback meetings as part of raising awareness on social accountability and policy engagement.
The trainings will assist Duty Bearers to improve their accountability and transparency mechanisms. As a follow up on the trainings, Heal Zimbabwe will facilitate forums for interface platforms where duty bearers and community members engage and dialogue on critical issues affecting their communities. The trainings in Gutu and Zaka are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s initiative to improve social service delivery and inculcate a culture where human rights are upheld across the country. The organisation will also conduct similar Duty Bearers trainings in areas such as Tsholotsho, Gokwe, Chipinge, and Makoni among other areas.