By Post Reporter
ODZI-A human rights concern, Centre for Research and Development (CRD) has taken a step further to empower communities by training monitors to document challenges impacting their communities.
The goal of the initiative is to strengthen capacities of citizen groups and government to work together in order to enhance quality of public services delivered to citizens.
It seeks to give voice to the needs and concerns of all relocated communities on the delivery and quality of public services.
Capacity development and training is essential components of the initiative to enable community monitors to implement social accountability and mechanisms.
CRD will work closely with community monitors to build their own internal capacities, achieve the initiatives’ objectives, and to increase the awareness of citizens of their rights, responsibilities and entitlements to public services and empowering them to demand better quality public services and hold government policy-makers, service providers and mining firms accountable.
Recently, civic rights group held a meeting with communities which were relocated to Arda Transau to pave way for mining of diamonds in Chiadzwa Marange in 2009.
There are more than 1 000 families who were moved to a sprawling 1 200 ha government-owned farm to pave way for the mining of diamonds in Marange fields.
The relocated communities have been facing a number of challenges chief among them lack of water, poor road networks, lack of health facilities and schools and hunger.
Against the background, CRD has been working with various community based organizations (CBO) s to look into issues affecting the communities.
Last week, CRD held community engagement meeting with locals who wanted to air their concerns.
The meeting sought to educate the community on how to monitor issues affecting them and become watchdogs of the society.
The meeting was held at Marange Resources Relocation area.
CRD representative Audrey Chikonyora told the villagers that they should document challenges affecting them and petition relevant authorities to improve service delivery.
“You have the power to force authorities to comply and offer service delivery. It’s the duty of the community to ensure local authorities provide quality service, roads are maintained and health facilities are built in your areas,” said Chikonyora.
During the meeting, relocated villagers complained that diamond mining firms renegated on their pledges to build health centres, school and provide access to clean water.
Tinotenda Mwashita roads in Mbada and Jinan Relocation area need emergency rehabilitation as they are in bad shape.
“The roads were last rehabilitated four years ago. The roads are now a death trap as they are littered
We are facing a number of challenges and the mines are not doing anything to improve our lives,” said Mwashita.
Tsitsi Mutisi who stays in Anjin area said they were facing acute water shortages and they can go up to five months without water.
“We can go for five months without water. We are forced to walk to a long distance to Odzi river in search of the precious liquid.
“We are grateful to CRD because this training will help us to monitor the activities and services being provided by mining companies to our community so that we document and hold them to account.
Faith Katsidzira said the current situation at Chirasika primary was pathetic, adding that the student teacher ration currently stands at 1:64.
“This information is not documented so that it can be passed to relevant authorities. We are happy CRD is helping to empower communities with knowledge to hold authorities to account. The pupil teacher ratio at Chirasika is unacceptable and action should be taken to address this situation,” she said.
Under the project, CRD will select 10 community monitors to help document challenges
CRD director James Mupfumi said the meeting was meant to get an update on service delivery from the affected communities.
He said Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) renegated on its promise to address legacy issues.
“People in some instances are going for six months without access to clean water because they cannot afford to pay for water and Zesa bills. Other issues of overpopulation having a bearing on inadequate school infrastructure,” said Mupfumi.
He said schools in the relocated areas were failing to meet needs of the new curriculum because there are no resources.
“There are 100 computers which were donated by then President the late Robert Mugabe and only three are working using generator as the schools cannot afford fuel. Nurse was transferred at the clinic and people are not being vaccinated because there is no replacement inspite of vaccines being available,” said CRD director.
Mupfumi said the rural district council Act and traditional leaders Act does not empower local duty bearers with custody of their resources.
“The failure by government to legislate devolution and transfer power to local authorities has rendered community development dysfuncitional.Government scrapped empowerment laws and companies are not obliged to remit revenue directly to communities,”he said.
CRD director also said as a result there is abject poverty of communities,poor service delivery,personalization of revenues by mining entities amid worst human rights practices by State controlled mining entities and their security agencies in Marange.