Where Are the Government COVID-19 Social Safety Nets? Women Query Government Officials in Mutasa

WALPE in partnership with Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) and Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) with the support from Christian Aid were on the 7th to the 10th of September 2020 in Mutasa District in Manicaland province for the Citizen Social Accountability Engagement Forums that were held in wards 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 26, 28 and 31. The platforms organised by the three organisations’ Women Leadership Networks (WALANs) and Citizen Accountability Teams (CATs) were used to facilitate dialogue, exchange of ideas and participatory feedback. In attendance were women, youth, traditional leaders, council officials, councillors, Members of Parliament, District Development Fund (DDF) officials, members from the ministries of education, health and women affairs, among others.

At the meetings, community leaders met and dialogued with rights holders on pertinent developmental issues affecting the communities. Developmental issues, peace building strategies, constitutional awareness exercises and other challenges affecting the community were discussed and solutions were proffered. One of the major reasons for these forums was for women to demand for accountability, affordable and quality public service provisions including health, education, and sanitation.

Key issues that were raised from all the wards include; poor health services at clinics, poor access to education, lack of aid from the social welfare, poor sanitation, rise in child marriages, poor infrastructure and gender-based violence. In one of the wards, women complained that there are only male nurses at a local clinic and the situation is making them uncomfortable especially when discussing sexual and reproductive health issues. The lack of transport as a result of COVID-19 restrictions is making it difficult for women to access health facilities that provide better and affordable services including pre and post-care.

The discussions led to solutions and clear timeframes with the majority of duty bearers present promising to feedback in the next 3 weeks. One of the major solutions that came out from all the forums was to include women and PWDs in all the important or decision making meetings such as council budget meetings. Some of the solutions include;

  • Engagement with Social Welfare on the upkeep of PWDs and the elderly. Some PWDs and the Elderly have not been benefiting from the COVID-19 government aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare.
  • Fundraising of sanitary wear for school children.
  • Engaging the authorities on the Pungwe Water Project so that people can have access to water. Community members have water tanks in place in their wards but they do not have water pipes to draw water from Pungwe River to their water tanks.

Source: Women Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)