A recently published research paper by the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation, a local non-governmental organization, is set to transform the wellbeing of people in rural communities through unearthing some organizational inconsistences associated with rural local governance.
The report entitled, Roles and Responsibilities in Rural Local Governance in Zimbabwe: Parallels, Overlaps and Conflict, brings to light the confusion in the responsibilities and the power of the local authorities that govern rural Zimbabwean communities at the expense of development.
It then goes on to highlight remedies that can be adopted towards the economic development of rural communities and even the nation at large.
CCMT, which responds to, attends to and addresses societal conflict in a non-confrontational approach, published the report in order to engage local governance players on how best to share roles and responsibilities towards mitigating conflict and promoting development.
Rural communities in Zimbabwe are generally under the administration of traditional leaders, councillors and District Administrators whose roles and responsibilities tend to go parallel and sometimes do overlap in a way that interferes with effective and efficient service delivery.
The other challenge that has been highlighted in the paper is that this lack of defined duties and responsibilities among the governing authorities in rural areas makes it difficult to measure their effectiveness and to hold them accountable.
As such, with the majority of Zimbabweans living in rural areas, the report shows that if the issues to do with corporate governance in rural areas are not urgently and timeously addressed, economic development will be hampered and the average population will continue to languish in poverty.
While attending a policy dialogue forum on rural local governance organised by CCMT and held at the Sapes Trust in Harare recently, some active participants in the civic society, media and local governance sector commended this report, saying it is a positive development towards societal transformation.
A local government expert, researcher and consultant Doctor Kudzai Chatiza who is the Director of the Development Government Institute (DGEI), endorsed the publication and welcomed this scenario where civic society groups write and publish papers of such a nature.
He added that the paper has managed to disclose some silo structures, legislative ambiguity and disjointed institutions and processes that undermine the development of rural communities. It was noted by participants that such dialogue about land and rural local governance should spread all over the country since the issue needs urgent attention for the good of the future of every Zimbabwean.
Nigel Mugamu, popularly known as ‘Sir Nige’ of the @263 Chat twitter platform, who chaired the discussion encouraged and invited the civic society groups to utilise social media such as twitter in the dissemination of such information which is critical for development.
He expressed his willingness to partner in packaging such important information in a way that is easily and quickly understood by everyone.
This report on the parallels, overlaps and conflict in the roles and responsibilities in rural local governance in Zimbabwe was co-authored by Mr Andrew Ilif, Ms Debra Mwase and Mr Collen Zvandasara who are from the Research and Documentation Department at the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation.
Ms Debra Mwase, a Kettering Foundation and Kings College Fellow who holds a Bachelor of Law (Honours) from the University of Zimbabwe, has extensive experience working with a variety of stakeholders and beneficiaries including policy makers, civil society practitioners, academics, community-based organizations and political actors.
Mr Collen Zvandasara, a holder of a Bachelor of Sciences in Local Governance Studies and other several qualifications in Monitoring and Evaluation, Research, Conflict Analysis, Negotiation and Gender Issues is actively involved in conflict interventions through dialogue facilitation.
Mr Xavier Mudangwe, who formed part of the discussion panel and has experienced firsthand some of the conflicts brought about by the parallels and overlaps, has over 7 years experience coordinating conflict transformation projects. He is a project officer at CCMT and holds a BA Honours degree in History and Development Studies.
The Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation is a Zimbabwean Non-Governmental organization which was formed in 2003 with its main mandate being to transform the ways in which society deals with conflict especially towards doing away with adversarial approaches and embracing collaborative problem solving.
To date, the organization has successfully worked with institutions such as Action La Faim (ACF), African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT) and Christian Care, Church and Civil Society Forum (CCSF) among others.