Savanna Trust and Wedza Residents Development Initiative Trust (WERDIT) are bringing
residents from diverse backgrounds and persuasions together with council and the District
Administrator’s office to deliberate on issues to do with development in the district. Under
this project, local community members in Wedza’s 15 wards are being engaged to come up
with a single priority project to be advocated for Wedza Rural District Council and other
stakeholders’ support, to include financially. Residents have generally expressed that the
initiative which creates dialogue between their leadership is welcome since they have many
unanswered questions regarding critical issues concerning service delivery and the
development agenda in Wedza district as a whole.
Platforms for deliberating developmental issues such as Village Development Committees
(VIDCOs), Ward Development Committees and Full Council sounded new to some residents
whilst some wrongly perceived them as political party platforms, where those who have
dissenting voices to the winning councillor do not want to be seen. As a result, there has
been serious apathy in participation in developmental issues. Most residents therefore lack
knowledge on local government and service delivery matters. A number of residents
directed questions to do with the social welfare ministry to the council whilst some thought
District Development Fund is a branch of council. The dialogue platforms are however
dealing with some of these issues.
So far the meetings have been conducted in the following areas: Goneso, St Barnabas,
Chamatendere, Musengezi and Zviyambe. More meetings are lined up to cover all wards,
with a target of 150 residents per meeting.
Utilising their expertise in Theatre for Development Savanna Trust developed a play
promoting meaningful citizen participation in service delivery and educating residents on
the constitutional obligations of the duty bearers including council, DA’s office and relevant
ministries. The play additionally provokes residents to air their views on the discourse for
local governance and service delivery in their localities to be tackled by the council and DA’s
office. The use of theatre is bringing a lot of impact since it washes away possible tension, as
well as simplifying seemingly complicated issues. In the same vein, WERDIT is setting up
structures as well as recruiting membership as a sustainability measure as the project
progresses to the end.
The council through its Human Resource Officer, Chipo Abhasi, has taken the opportunity
provided by these platforms to bring awareness to residents on the need to play an active
role in council programs including budget consultative meetings, full council meetings and
committee meetings among other council activities. She also shared the budget priorities as
enshrined in the draft budget set to be approved soon by the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing. She also advised the residents on the 50% discount
promotion on the payment of bills to the council and informed residents that the council
belongs to them and vice-versa.
The Wedza Assistant District Administrator, Admire Dhliwayo informed the residents that
payment of tax is compulsory and is paid per household. In return residents also have the
right to make a follow up on how their funds are used by the district authorities. He also
highlighted that a plough back fund from the tax paid by residents is used to develop and
repair infrastructure in communities. These include boreholes, bridges, schools and public
health facilities. The duty bearers jointly thanked Savanna and WERDIT for creating these
platforms and vowed to continue on this path, even in the aftermath of the project.