Section 76 of the constitution provides for the right to health care. This inalienable right underscores the importance of basic health care services to every citizen of Zimbabwe. Added to this, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 3 provides for good health and well-being. The realization of such sacrosanct rights especially in rural communities remains a pipe dream as there are several hurdles that stand in the way. Some of these hurdles include the high levels of political polarization that characterize most rural communities, poverty and the lack of effective accountability mechanisms at the local community level.
It is under such a background that Heal Zimbabwe intervened in Zaka ward 8 and trained duty bearers and rights holders in social accountability and policy engagement. As a follow up activity on the training, a Community Accountability Team established by a community that works with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka ward 8 then convened a series of dialogue meetings since November 2018 with the latest being in March 2019. The major objective of the dialogue engagements were specifically to discuss challenges that were being faced in the construction of a local clinic and devising lasting solutions to the development of the community clinic. These challenges were exacerbated by sharp differences over management of contributed resources by the community and ownership of the clinic between the local community and the Salvation Army church following donation of construction material under the Constituency Development Fund. This then stalled progress on the construction of the clinic for more than 5 years.
Major issues discussed during the dialogue meetings include the opaque management of clinic resources, abuse of contributed resources and the need for the clinic committee to be transparent in the way it handled consolidated resources. The dialogue meeting also served as feedback platform for the clinic committee to feedback to the community on progress about the actions taken to resuscitate the construction of the clinic. The committee reported that it managed to engage the Zaka Rural District Council (RDC), Mutimurefu prison, Ministry of Health, the local MP, the District Development Fund (DDF) and the traditional leadership on the issue of assisting in the construction of the clinic. Added to this, the committee also reported that it also engaged local Member of Parliament for Zaka Central, Davison Svuure who made numerous donations and liaised with the local council in providing support on the construction of the clinic. To date, the social accountability dialogue has triggered a series of progress in the clinic construction project. The DDF conducted an assessment visit at the site of the clinic and has also deployed three builders who have since commenced the rebuilding of the clinic. The clinic committee through the treasurer has also conducted several feedback meetings in the ward explaining how contributed resources were utilized and the budget for the clinic going forward. To demonstrate buy-in and ownership of the clinic project, community members have also volunteered to assist at the clinic and providing water and food for the builders.
The Social Accountability dialogues are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s advocacy initiative that seeks to promote social cohesion in 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. In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe will continue to campaign robustly for a national dialogue that must be premised on adequate inclusion right from the grassroots. More importantly is inclusion of women in the dialogue since they have suffered the brunt of political violence during successive episodes of political conflict in the country.