By Nyasha Mutena
Residents Associations from different parts of Zimbabwe convened on the 16th of September 2021 to deliberate on ways through which residents associations can strengthen their coordination and empower citizens in advocating for quality social service delivery especially in Councils.
The meeting acknowledged the need to build citizen agency in terms of advocacy on electoral reforms as well as to mobilize and motivate citizens to participate in electoral processes.
In light of the linkage between elections and service delivery, participants noted that there is need to push for electoral reforms which are linked to service delivery so that citizens will have an understanding of how their vote will impact on access to social services. The need to push for duty bearers at council level to have power in terms of decision making as a way of enhancing accountability will also be a key advocacy issue.
This is line with the principle of devolution as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’ vision 2030. The meeting acknowledged the need to push for Executive Mayors at councils across the country. This is in light of the fact that technocrats have become more powerful than elected officials and in some instances, appear to be pushing partisan agendas.
On natural resource governance, the meeting acknowledged that local communities must benefit, be involved and have a voice in the management of natural resources within their localities.
Attendants concurred that there is need to push for a youth and women’s quota system in the composition of both local and provincial councils and that allocation processes for the women’s quota should be inclusive and transparent. This is in line with the government ‘s drive to have confidence in its deliberations as it gears for economic growth.
Also, the meeting acknowledged the need to strengthen operational structures of Residents Associations as well as the need to engage with key stakeholders on issues related to production.
Participants also acknowledged the need for a robust voter mobilization drive deliberately targeting youths, women and people living with disabilities as well as first time voters ahead of the 2023 elections.