Duty bearers have been urged to involve community members in the process of usage of devolution funds in order to improve accountability. Thembelani Dube, a local government development monitoring and evaluation expert noted that for accountability purposes, community leaders must involve residents in all the devolution projects. This was said during a virtual meeting on “Devolution Funds Projects – Conversations on ownership, oversight and accountability” hosted by Gender for Accountability, Peace and Security (GAPS) in conjunction with Community Podium.
“All the programs which have to be funded by devolution funds are supposed to be decided on by communities. Community members are the ones who are supposed to come up with the projects that they want to be funded by devolution funds,” said Dube.
“Therefore it is important for community leaders to go the people and decide together with them which projects to embark on. From the identified projects, the community leaders then have to make decisions on which projects to prioritise.”
Dube outlined that it is important that by the time the funds come through there should be approved projects ready for implementation.
“Duty bearers should ensure that by the time funds get disbursed, they would have already listed their priority projects. They should not to wait for the funds to come through first. Residents must also make sure they prioritise such services as education, health, roads among others. they must not be used by local authorities to pay salaries or any other expenses but must be used positively to impact communities,” he said.
“In the same light, local authorities are encouraged to activate separate accounts specifically for devolution funds. This would encourage accountability for this money. It is important to note that devolution funds are meant to benefit even those who are in marginalised communities at all times, they should fund capital projects. They must benefit everyone, even the laymen on the streets.”
He added that the process must be transparent from inception until the end. “Communities must be made aware whenever these funds are disbursed, they should be told how much would have been disbursed. This will help the community members to trace accountability for the disbursed money, there must always be timelines too as to when the projects would be completed,” he said.
“The problem with duty bearers is that sometimes duty bearers do not bother themselves to engage the communities and when it is time report back the people say they did not see the projects. The leaders should ensure that they engage their community members at all times.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology