Wedza Residents Development Initiative Trust (WERDIT) is a registered Community Based Organisation (CBO) operating in Wedza District in Mashonaland East province. WERDIT’s mandate is derived from the communities it represents in facilitating dialogue and interactions between various concerned social and economic stakeholders. In line with the Zimbabwe’s national thrust of ensuring that every citizens’ rights are upheld and improvement of social welfare, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development and members the Expanded Sustainable Development Goals Committee has embarked on a nationwide consultative process of gathering and collating citizen’s views on what they expect to see being reflected in the national budget. The national budget represents the proposed revenues and expenditures a Government expects according to preferences and prioritization in a given period, usually a year. It is an influential management tool for achieving national development objectives. Zimbabwe’s Constitution (Section 141) requires that Parliament facilitate public involvement in the budget processes. This assertion resonates well with WERDIT’s mandate of ensuring that there is informed participation of residents in development and decision making process and effective and efficient responsiveness from duty bearer. WERDIT realizes that this process is a national process, but in this piece, focus is purely on the 15 wards of Wedza district. WERDIT understands that input from Wedza residents and citizens will find its way into the national budget.
WERDIT has held several Budget Literacy meetings and online consultations with diverse stakeholders including youths, women, civic and political leadership, Persons Living with Disabilities(PWDs) and Faith Based Organisations in an effort to screen citizen’s priorities and aspirations towards the coming 2022 national budget consultative process. The paper is equally informed with the residents in input towards the National Development Strategy consultations which was made in collaboration with the District Development Coordinator’s office in the month of June 2021. The views of Wedza residents on the council budget consultative meetings were also considered in compiling this paper.
WERDIT basically used a Human Rights Based Approach in creating awareness on the need for residents to air their issues to the mentioned Parliamentary Portfolio Committee which deals with budget consultations. Civic education on Gender Based Budgeting was also effected to the targeted communities as well as interest articulation and aggregation of issue based needs for all interest groups in the district was also effected. This was informed by the realization that residents generally lack knowledge on the issues to highlight in the context of the budget. In the same vein WERDIT mobilized residents to go in their numbers to deliberate on their budget needs with parliament regardless of their political backgrounds and affiliations.
The following issues were raised. However, for the purposes of this position, the priorities are not in any way ranked but were captured as they were raised.
- Transport: Due to the poor road infrastructure, Wedza has no reliable transport system especially in wards 8- Dendenyore, ward 6- Mubaiwa (Gandamasungo) and ward 1 roads-Chad, Collas etc. These areas have for long been neglected hence the need for Zimbabwe United Passengers Company buses to ply the mentioned route.
- Road Network: The road network is in a severe dilapidated state of disrepair and in some areas motorists have suffered major losses as the roads cause accidents and loss of life. The roads are heavily potholed and the major roads are strip tarred and gravel- Wedza-Mushandira road. Connecting roads from Gandamasungo to Garaba needs re-gravelling or tar. The same goes for Dendenyore ward- the road from St Joseph’s to Mt St Mary’s.
- Wedza – Sadza Road (Pachikomo chemureza): This area is a black spot as a precious lives have been lost due to high incidents of accidents. During one of the meetings, citizens have demanded that the road be redirected to the old detour road that traffic used during the construction of the said road.
- Information: Connectivity: There is need to erect network boosters as Wedza has challenges in connectivity. Current network providers do not adequately service Wedza. Areas like Wards 1, 4 and 9 experience intermittent network coverage.
- Technology: Use of Information Communication and Technologies(ICTs)- Most schools lack the necessary ICT tools which in turn hampers the development of a complete learner. Zimbabwe is moving fast in terms technology as evidenced by many owning smartphones capable of accessing internet, therefore it is ideal that there must be concerted efforts in investment of ICT’s in the allocations of the forthcoming national budget.
- Electrification of Schools: For ICT’s to work effectively, schools must be electrified. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must be capacitated so that electricity is available to schools for computers or installation of solar power.
- Vocational Training Centre(VTC): Wedza is in dire need of a skills transfer institution to equip school leavers and those less academically gifted. Currently, there is no VTC in the district This initiative will harness and improve skills for many of the youths in the district as they will spend most of their time productively and reduce idleness and illicit activities like prostitution, drug addiction and becoming habitual thieves.
- Capacitation of Health Facilities: Most health facilities in and around Wedza prescribe medicines- even the common paracetamol drug to patients. It is prudent that that the clinics and hospitals be adequately resourced so as to be sources of life to the communities in which they are located.
- Provision of mothers’ shelters: expecting mothers are expected to give birth in clinics and hospitals, yet the institutions lack the necessary infrastructure for safe delivery of babies. WERDIT take note that giving birth is a national duty, therefore expectant mothers are supposed to be accorded that privilege of giving birth in a secure and safe environment.
- Review of Consultation fees: Residents are urging the Ministry of Health and Child Care to review downward fees that are paid one seeks treatment. A lot of people are dying from curable ailments as they cannot afford the admission fees.
- Provision of sanitary pads- Women felt that they are left out on health issues. Women are demanding free sanitary ware because most of them cannot afford to buy them monthly. They end up using unsafe methods which cause health problems.
- Budget Allocations: The Ministry Finance and Economic Development is urged to reconsider the criteria for budgetary allocations. The residents feel that in terms of funds allocations, the Ministry of Health and Child Care must be ranked higher above every Ministry as they- citizens argue that, for a nation to be successful, it must be a health nation. Problems associated with delivering an effective health delivery system will go away if the Health ministry is fully capacitated.
- Provision of water: Drilling of Boreholes: Most communities lack water availability and rely on shallow and unprotected wells. This in turn, compromises the community’s health. Supply of clean and potable water is a must as well as a constitutional right. Communities are most affected during the dry seasons as they travel long distances to access water. The current need, therefore, is to rehabilitate the existing boreholes and drill new in communities where there are none. Resettlement areas in wards 1, 2 and 3 have perennial water challenges as there are no boreholes.
- Land for the Youths: The youths are demanding that the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Mechanization clear bottlenecks in land access. It has been noted that government policies are not sync with situations obtaining. There is a mismatch between government’s call for youths to have access to land yet a recent land audit revealed that there is no more land for allocation.
- Safe Shelters: There is a clarion call from women that the government take women’s issues seriously as they are suffering sexual and gender based violence including rape. Therefore, victims of gender based violence and rape must be accorded shelters where they need to recuperate be offered counseling services. Devolution Funds: – The Government of Zimbabwe has decentralized power to local authorities so that governance happens at local level. It is therefore imperative that the 5% devolution funds from the national fiscus be released early so that public works commences for the benefit of the local communities. The development of collection points at ward level and proper market stalls must be immediately started.
As WERDIT, we anticipate to see inputs from its constituencies being consolidated into the national budget. Citizens are happy to see their concerns being given the recognition and consideration they deserve. In the past, many citizens have tended to boycott government processes because they felt the consultations are done merely to fulfill and satisfy constitutional requirements. It is against this background, that WERDIT, sought to educate citizens and assure them, that the process is not a political game but a process that defines a policy that stipulates allocations of funds for various economic activities to be undertaken by government for year 2022. This process culminates in a policy formulation tool (national budget) to inform and guide government expenditures for 2022.