Makwateni Village Battles Two Decades of Marginalization

Following two decades of infrastructural neglect and isolation, Nkayi villagers question the role of government.

Villagers at the Makwateni area in Nkayi say they have been neglected, having had no access to roads and water sources close to them for over 20 years now. The sorry state of affairs in the district was exposed recently during a discussion on Nkayi development in a virtual group called Nkayi Parliament where villagers passionately expressed their displeasure over the state of affairs in the village.

Nkayi community member Methuseli Moyo appealed for authorities to assist Makwateni villagers in ward 12 with access roads and water points. “That place has been forgotten ever since. There is no road link, no water, not even a dam. People and their livestock walk for more than 10 kilometres to the Shangani River for water and people walk about 10 km to board buses. The local dam was swept away by rains some 25 years ago and has not been repaired. The road was abandoned in 1984,” Moyo says.

“People in Makwateni do not even understand whether there is a government or council. In this day and age can there be a shortage of dams and boreholes in an area?”mMoyo says Makwateni area is neglected, adding that the cattle in the area drink once or three times per week and many have succumbed to dehydration.

Moyo says the devolution funds should at least be channelled to the area to assist the community, and the government and other institutions have a legal mandate and budgets to develop those places and must be seen doing so through using state funds obtained through tax collection.

Nkayi community member and an educator, Athanasius Mligwe who is also Matabeleland North Social Development and Peace Building Commentator says, “Water is a constitutional right in section 77. Health is a constitutional right also in the same section. Children’s education is a constitutional right. By not providing these, the government is violating the Constitution.”

Human rights activist Effie Ncube who was born in Nkayi says people are contributing money to the government whether one is employed or not through the Value Added tax daily when buying from shops. “We are contributing this money, not for those in charge to give it to their children, but to develop the communities, to construct roads, schools, bridges, hospitals, dams, protect people from crime, protect people’s rights and enable people to have access to justice,” says Ncube.

Ncube says in his line of work the government is a duty bearer and citizens are rights holders. He says the government has a duty to provide clean, safe water and sanitation, to ensure that streets are free from criminals, to eliminate corruption, and to provide infrastructures like roads, houses and dams.

“On the other hand, citizens have a right to services that the government has a duty to provide. The government is not doing anyone favours by constructing roads. I have seen on Television people worshipping government officials kneeling down to them for doing their job, it is wrong. Government has a duty to deliver on its constitutional legal, social and moral obligations, development is at the core of the duties of the state,” Ncube says.

“We must understand that we are not begging, we are demanding from the government the development….it has a duty to deliver to us. Government is our employee, we are not employed by the government, the government is there to serve us, we are not accountable to the government, but the government is accountable to us. The government must not act as if it is assisting when constructing roads or hospitals,” says Ncube.

Ncube says it is the right of citizens regardless of political affiliation to demand government services as their human rights and this is the standard procedure worldwide.

However, ward 12 Councillor Elvis Nkomo says villagers face serious water challenges in the area after Makwateni dam was destroyed by the rains. “Makwateni dam was destroyed by rains and we lack funding to rehabilitate it,” Nkomo says. Makwateni dam is located in the Gamulani area in Makwateni.

“I have raised the issue of the dam with the council and they have since promised to send engineers to assess the dam to know the costs expected for the project,” Nkomo says.

He also says the roads are so terrible such that the community is left out in many programmes as the area is not accessible. Nkayi District Development Coordinator Matilda Mlotshwa Mahaso was not reachable on her mobile when contacted and did not respond to questions sent to her mobile number.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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