By Information Department
‘All is well that ends well.’ This statement could be seen written all over the hopeful faces of Gwanda Ward 14 Advocacy Action Teams as they filed out of the venue of the policy dialogue meeting organised by Habakkuk Trust to address three pertinent issues in the ward.
N.G.O commits some borehole pipes
After the presentation of the community Position Paper and the deliberations that ensured thereafter, the Bethel Action Team was left breathing a sigh of relief after Lutheran Development Services committed to assist the communities with some second hand usable borehole pipes that have been extracted from their other programme areas.
This arrangement will be the villages’ short term stop gap measure as they may now try to resuscitate their broken down boreholes.
However, it was also resolved that more water points need to be establish so as to balance water usage and population growth. This was after villagers had indicated that the available boreholes were sunk to cater for 10 homesteads but now they are catering up to about 100 homesteads.
The community was also urged to resuscitate its water committees and ensure that they are helped to advocate for the repairs and construction of additional points in their Ward plans.
Shortage of water has been an advocacy issue in many areas where Habakkuk Trust is working including Bulawayo, Mangwe and Tsholotsho. Advocacy need to be directed to equip local and national governments to establish water banks and water budgets that will ensure that people enjoy their rights to clean and accessible water.
A new Village Development Committee to be elected
Ward 14 villagers are now set to elect a new Village Development Committees after the Policy Dialogue meeting resolved that the current committees for Sengezane and other villages in the ward were unduly and illegally constituted.
Though the issue of the VIDCO Structure had initially been a Sengezane issue only, after Mr Nkosilathi Ncube from Gwanda Rural District Council had explained the legal procedure of electing the committee under Statutory Instrument 15 of 2000, the villagers concurred with Mr Phineas Maphosa’s idea that ‘the problem is not at Sengezane only, therefore there must be fresh elections to pave way for proper structures in all the villages’.
Apparently it emerged that instead of having 6 members the current existing VIDCOs have only 3 and in some areas they are not being chaired by the Village Head as the law stipulates. This led to calls for all community members to be educated on how the committee is elected, its major duties and functions and terms of office.
Habakkuk Trust will be partnering the local authority in raising awareness on development structures and how they ought to function. The first training will be for Councillors on the 15th to the 16th of November 2010.
The problem of leadership crisis and subsequent imposition of leaders on partisan lines continues to be a major issue derailing development in most communities. Though the country has very high literacy levels, there is still little civic education targeted on civic rights and how people can participate and bring their leaders to account.
Villagers to form grazing committees
Villagers from Bhalula and Ward 14 at large have been urged to establish grazing committees that will manage and monitor their pastures so as to avert the aftermaths of droughts and corrupt land use practices.
The call was made by an Agritex Official during the Ward 14 Policy Dialogue meeting held in Gwanda. The call comes after Bhalula Villagers presented a Position Paper on the issue of shortage of grazing lands and how their grazing land was misappropriated by political heavyweights in the community.
The Agritex official said if grazing committees were in place they could have averted the unfortunate land wrangle that now occurs.
It was also resolved in the meeting that the Councillor, the Rural District Council, Habakkuk Trust and the villagers need to visit the Ministry of Land s and clarify on the ownership of the land adjacent to Dubani Ranch which is now a conflict between villagers and some Cold Storage Commission officers.
Some villagers narrated chilling experiences of how the CSC officers have threatened them with guns trying to evict them from the land being wrangled.
Land disputes continue to be an order of the day in Zimbabwe especially after the government’s land resettlement programme. The 2010 Government led Land Audit has revealed that people with either political power or connections have usurped the programme for self enrichment at the detriment of other land deserving citizens.