A Vital Partnership

By Martin Matamba
Conflict Transformation Practitioner, CPPZ Mbare Chapter

A vital partnership is like a marriage or union strong, open and transparent. This partnership is what I call “Water tight” as no amount of pressure, scrutiny and criticism can penetrate this kind of relationship. It goes further in ensuring either party equal room to work with the full support and backing of the other and has equal share of responsibility and mandate in its undertaking. In the armed forces, one of the most important principles is to look out for your partners back, making this partnership worth joining and cherishing as it saves lives.

Most importantly, this kind of and partnership goes deep down to benefit the intended communities and beneficiaries. Christians are quick to bless it saying “it’s a union or partnership made in heaven“ as a sign of appreciation and support for the Partnership. Very essential and important is that even those not in the partnership can or would envy this ideal partnership worth getting involved in and contributing to. Interestingly if the union is successful even the ordinary man in the street can look up and applaud as the sweet fruits of the union are shared by all deep down to the last ordinary man in our communities.

Many times there is always a dog fight, pushing and shoving  between  existing  government structures or departments and Non Governmental Organizations(NGOs) coming in to work in different  communities  around Zimbabwe  implementing  various special projects  and initiatives.  The two heavyweights try to work or serve the same communities or simply the Zimbabwean population at large. Their fighting, spiting and misunderstandings  compromise the work they are both looking forward to doing as authorized government departments and Non Governmental Organizations are both given a green light  to do such important work in a particular community.

In my work as a Conflict Transformation Practitioner (CTP) depending on the nature of the conflict and intervention, I have been privileged to work with people and organizations from all walks of life, from government departments to the ordinary man in the streets, to fellow Non Governmental Organisations to Community Based Organisations (CBOs). I have seen and learnt why it is important to understand what a good working relationship is when implementing projects in various communities in Zimbabwe.

It is very critical for Non Governmental Organizations to complement and work closely with current and existing government structures or vice –versa as it is also important for government departments to form alliances with different likeminded partners. Together, they can provide a special service and cultivate a sense and culture of unity amongst the three most important stakeholders which are Government, NGOs and Communities.

Out there special services which need this kind of partnership are needed from the provision clean water, food supplements, medical equipment services to conflict intervention and management and dialogue, to mention just a few. As that saying goes united we stand and divided we fall. As implementers, conveners or initiators of special projects it is of paramount importance to always understand who needs that service more than the other as more often than not, when government structures and NGOs fight, their fighting only makes situations and conditions on the ground worse and dire not for them but for the third stakeholder which is the most important – the stakeholders in this arrangement, our communities. As a result of these bad partnerships communities suffer, animals die, infrastructure is destroyed whilst Governments and NGOs fight for territorial supremacy. In our Shona Culture we say “Panorwa Nzou, huswa ndiwo hunokuwara” meaning that when elephants fight its only the grass that suffers the most.

Have you ever noticed that in a normal home children are not worried and eager to know who paid for their fees, who is buying clothes and food for Christmas but instead all they want is to be provided for and that is the same with our communities.  I personally feel that our ordinary man, woman and child in the street are not concerned about the finer details of who or why such facilities and material is coming their way. Instead  they would be happier and more open to contribute or receive anything if they see and hear their leaders and helpers working together for the same cause forging synergies for development and not trying to pull each other down. Creating parallel structures such as these can only spell to both an immediate bad working relationship between the two and a hostile working environment. In the end it divides the communities in the long run and breaks partnerships.

Having worked with existing government structures in Harare, Gweru, Vungu, Kwekwe and Bulawayo it is very evident and clear that a vital partnership always produces results and is a vital ingredient for community development. In my time working with these Government officials and departments  I not only benefitted from a good working relationship but humility and true workmanship that can never be bought  anywhere for anything. I have seen that a vital partnership or union is important and essential for community development. Government departments and Non Governmental Organisations have a key role to play in our nation building and success. Also, it is very important to always note that in this partnership challenges and huddles are normal.

With all the fighting, pushing and shoving all they want is to reach their intended destinations or audience with their different projects and facilities but I usually ask myself why we fight to provide a service when there is room for dialogue and talking. Why don’t we give partnerships a chance to benefit “Gogo na Sekuru” who are in the remotest of places. Around Zimbabwe and the world successful partnerships have brought big smiles, tears of joy, excitement and lime light not to the drivers of the projects and initiatives but to the general populous.  Communities are left with clean water, a safe environment, empowered youths, job creation, proper health facilities, a structured educational system, farming projects, peaceful environments free of political violence, co-existence amongst people of different cultures, ideologies, origins and unity amongst the locals for the greater good of the communities.

Martin Matamba is a Conflict Transformation Practitioner (CTP) & Coordinator of Community Peace-building Partnership of Zimbabwe (CPPZ) Mbare chapter.