Residents of Matobo have said access to information is critical for development and are calling for a bridging of the information gap that they allege has been their bane. This, among a plethora of other issues, emerged during Internews’ visit to the Sontala Clinic site to conduct a mid-term review exercise designed to rigorously measure and assess the impact of the Zimbabwe Media Development project interventions.
Councillor of Ward 12 Ernest Ncube raised the issue pertaining to paucity of information on current affairs both at district and national level. He also bemoaned the lack of local news coverage.
“As rural residents or communities, there are a lot of issues or news we need heralded, be it current affairs happening within the district or news on land degradation, gender based violence. We feel sidelined and in terms of information dissemination,” he said.
Cllr Ncube further decried the media blackout on information relating to how the community is benefitting from its resources. He expressed disappointment at the opaqueness surrounding the selling of resources which smacks of exploitation of locals by people from other districts and provinces. He added that the underdevelopment in Matobo does not reflect its rich endowment.
“We also want to know about the resources we have in Matobo and how we benefit from those resources in terms of community development .Our District is poor in terms of development but rich in what we export to other districts. We have gold in Matobo, we also have mopane worms and these are supposed to benefit the locals. Our resources are supposed to primarily benefit us,” he said.
Sontala Clinic Project Chairperson, Inviolata Ncube shared the same sentiments with Cllr Ncube and also emphasized that women must not be excluded and are entitled to their pound of flesh when it comes to benefiting from local resources. She emphasized that effective information dissemination is critical for the upliftment of women in the district.
“We need information on our local resources and other projects that can bail us out as women. Gone are the days when men could single-handedly provide for their families. We have mines but we don’t know how they operate and what they contribute as far as Matobo development is concerned, therefore we need the right information on that,” she said.
Mr Eugine Dube, a local resident, shed some light on how Internews through Community Podium assisted the Sontala community by spotlighting the clinic building project.
“Sometime last year (2020), Community Podium, courtesy of their Matobo-based community reporter, published a story about our clinic project which elicited immediate responses from locals and diasporans who obliged by extending donations towards the work.”
“Community news is of great importance to us. In addition to keeping us informed it is also good for community development in that it can attract potential funders for community projects,” she said.
Dube added that community news providers would do well to incorporate local languages in their publications.
“We also prefer newsletters in our own language, especially in hard copy if possible. Reading news in our mother tongue would go a long way in enhancing our comprehension of community issues.
The project Chairperson concluded by giving an update on the building of Sontala Clinic progress as she indicated that the community has tentatively set december 2021 for the completion of the project.
“We are making progress and still mobilising the community while sourcing for funding and material support. Our structure is now at roofing level and we currently do not have funds for roofing material. We still need more cement for plastering and other materials such as window panes. We would be glad to receive support from the local authority, central government agencies, and non-governmental organisations,” she said.
Ncube further highlighted the importance of access to factual news and the need to keep the local community informed.
“As Sontala community we get news mainly from the radio, our local leaders especially the local councilor and from social media.Other news are received through social media. We need an effective and functional community radio station that can cover the whole district.
Few people afford mobile smart phones and mobile data. Community news help in terms of creating awareness especially on the covid 19 lockdown enforcement regulations and health education.
The granting of a licence to Matobo Community Radio Trust by the government last month, is set to improve the dissemination of information in the district.
Source: Community Podium