Communities in Zaka have taken duty bearers to task over the need for more transparency and accountability on the use of devolution funds. Speaking during a dialogue meeting organised by a Social Accountability Team (SAT) that works with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka, communities highlighted that there was lack of transparency and accountability over devolution funds that were disbursed without citizen input or consultations.
The dialogue meeting was conducted on 29 October 2020 and was attended by 45 community members, Traditional leaders, clinic committees, Village Development Committees (VIDCOs), Ward Development Committees (WADCOs) and the local Councillor. Communities highlighted that they only got to know that devolution funds were disbursed for specific projects during the meeting and yet they did not actively participate in the identification of developmental projects.”We only got to know of devolution funds during one of the meetings with the Councillor but to our surprise grass root structures established by the Ministry of Local Government such as VIDCOs and WADCOs that enhance citizen participation and inclusion are not even involved in the process ”, said one participant. The dialogue meeting also provided a platform for the Councillor to update communities on plough back funds that have since been disbursed. The Councillor reported that resources for plough back were processed for each ward and consultations on how the resources will be utilised have already begun. Participants at the meeting unanimously agreed that the plough back resources were supposed to be channeled towards the construction of ablution facilities at the clinic. Added to that, the councilor encouraged community members to participate in all local level meetings convened by different stakeholders.
As part of resolutions, the local Councilor promised to raise community needs and concerns in the full council meeting that will be conducted next month. The Councillor and Traditional leaders will also conduct follow up feedback meetings to update community member on the outcomes of the full council meeting. The Social Accountability dialogues are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s advocacy initiative that seeks to promote social cohesion and improve service delivery within local communities. Cohesive communities help establish harmony so that people are tolerant of each other and live together in peace. Added to this, the dialogues also seek to bring the voices of citizens into governance, enabling citizens to monitor and provide feedback on the delivery of services, and helping to build trust between rights holders and duty bearers.