Community members from Buhera West ward 33 have demanded that Buhera Rural District Council (RDC) conducts consultative meetings on the use of devolution funds. This came out during a budget consultative meeting conducted on 18 November 2020 at the RDC sub offices in Birchenough Bridge.
Prior to the meeting, Buhera Yedu; a virtual platform organized by Peace Clubs working with Heal Zimbabwe had mobilized and conducted an awareness raising on the central role played by communities in determining the use of Council taxes, levies as well as the important role that they play in rolling out devolution. As part of feedback, the RDC reported that the district received devolution funds and purchased two tipper trucks and two graders that were going to be used for road refurbishment. It also added that this year the RDC has so far received ZWL$3 million from an expected total of ZWL$35 million of devolution funds. Community members however raised concern in the way the RDC was handling devolution funds and highlighted in terms of the constitution, devolution is supposed to give powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in making decisions affecting them. ”Section 264 of the constitution highlights that devolution is meant to give powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them. Now you are updating that you bought equipment for road refurbishment but yet we were not consulted. In future, conduct meetings with citizens so that they can also input into the process. We have structures such as Village Development Committees (VIDCOs) and Ward Development Committees (WADCOs) that can enhance citizen participation”, said one participant.
Other issues raised by community members during the consultative meeting include shortages of water in the ward that has seen people travelling long distances to fetch water. Poor road infrastrure has also contributed to food insecurity in the area since most farmers incur huge losses when transporting their produce.Comunity members also took the RDC to task on the lack of transparency of funds realized from the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE).This was in relation to Devuli Ranch that is under the CAMPFIRE program. Community members also demanded transparency on plough back funds realized from taxes and levies. Local level meetings present an opportunity for Communities that work with Heal Zimbabwe to strengthen capacity of fellow citizens to uphold participation, inclusion, transparency, accountability and responsiveness principles and mechanisms. Such interventions help build peaceful and socially cohesive communities.