By Tamuka Charakupa
PEOPLE in rural areas must take full advantage of existing community development structures and use them as vehicles to participate in the planning and implementation of priority projects in their areas.
Chipinge Rural District Council chief executive officer, Blessing Mamvosha, said most rural communities do not attend development meetings and as a result, some of their key projects needing urgent implementation are left out of development plans.
“We have existing development structures beginning at village level. There is a Village Development Committee (Vidco), which is chaired by a village head and the Ward Development Committee (Wardco), which is chaired by a councillor.
“These are the platforms, which then feed into the district committee, which then comes up with the district development plan,” Mamvosha said.
“The feedback, we always get from the village heads and councillors, is worrisome. It is the same story every time that only a handful of people attend development meetings and usually those who attend tend to push their own issues, which might not be the public will.”
He called for education outreaches, including awareness campaigns, on the importance of participating in community development meetings, which is part of the engagement and consultation process in the planning stages of projects.
“As long our people do not know how development masterplans are drafted they will always play the blame game, pointing fingers or coming up with different theories as to why they are being left out, Mamvosha said.
“It is my opinion that government and developmental partners should intensify awareness campaigns in our communities so that we move together as a team and implement development goals that are community related.”
The call comes at a time when government is walking the talk on the Constitutionally-mandated devolution policy, which requires government to allocate development funds to local authorities through the 5% Inter-governmental Fiscal Transfer Fund.
Chipinge Rural District Council this year received over ZW$53million, approximately US$647 921at the official rate of US$1 to ZW$81,8, for devolution projects.