Zimbabwe Christian Alliance has been commended for its effort to help residents of Gweru to make meaningful participation in community development processes as well as improvement of service delivery at the City of progress.
Speaking during an exchange visit that was being hosted by the Local Advocacy Champions in Masvingo, the deputy mayor of Gweru, Councillor Cleopas Shiri said the Accountability and Community Participation Project which had been running for the past three years did not benefit the community only but the local authority as well.
“As Gweru city council we have benefited very much from Zimbabwe Christian Alliance programmes. What we have witnessed is a clear new trajectory that was brought by the coming of ZCA to Gweru,” he said.
Cllr Shiri said the LACs brought an urgency to attend water bursts within the local authorities. He said the LACs were dotted around the city and they were the ones raising alarm to the city council on the water bursts in their areas.
“They made sure that council attends to problems that the residents have especially on the issues that council is supposed to provide service for example issues to do with water provisions. They played a greater role in alarming the authorities of the challenges that the community was facing in terms of water availability and bursts. The council would quickly attend to those issues,” he said.
Part of the training that was done by ZCA included budget formulation and tracking which enabled the community to understand the processes that local authorities go through when coming up with their budgets.
“We realised that after training on budget formulation and tracking, residents were eager to attend the budget processes that were being done by the local authority. The quality of contributions from the residents who had been trained also improved as they had knowledge and understood how budgets are done,” said Cllr Shiri.
For many years, the city had some areas with perennial sewer blockages and residents had given up on reporting the bursts.
“When it comes to sewer, the LACs helped in pushing the authorities to deal with perennial blockages that had been there for a long time. Some of the areas no longer experience sewer bursts like before,” he said.
Councillor Shiri applauded ZCA for creating platforms for engagement that helped the local authority reach out to a wider audience. He said programmes that were done on the radio helped to clear out some misconceptions that the community had against the council.
“Radio platforms helped in sensitising the community on different issues such as water and it helped us clear some misconceptions that the community had on the local authority especially on water provision,” he said.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, ZCA opted to use radio programmes to engage with service providers such as the Gweru City Council, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the Covid-19 Taskforce.