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Gokwe villagers prioritize key issues in community meetings on local budget consultation

Isheunesu Tirivangani

Gokwe villagers recently convened in a community indaba organized by ZIMCODD (Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development), along with duty bearers, to discuss the preparation for local budget consultation. The aim of the meeting was to address and tackle various issues affecting rural areas and improve the standard of living for the constituents of Gokwe Kana, Gokwe Sengwa, and Gokwe Sesame.

During the gathering, Tendai Masora, ZIMCODD Gokwe coordinator and also a SEJA (Social Economic Justice Ambassador), emphasized the importance of understanding the concepts of local and national budgets. Attendees were encouraged to share their priorities based on their respective wards, which will inform the preparation of the national budget. The interface meeting with duty bearers was successful, and positive outcomes are anticipated.

Veronica Gweta, a resident from Ward 31 in Gokwe Sengwa, highlighted the need for at least one solarized borehole for every 50 households in the ward. Given the inadequate water supply in the 12 big villages, the scooping of the existing dams, Manyepa and Madenha, was proposed. This action would enable projects such as nutritional gardens, fish breeding, and large and small stock breeding before the rainy season.

“Reflecting on the state of our agricultural activities in Ward 31, it is evident that we are significantly behind due to the adverse effects of climate change. Thus, we urgently require timely procurement of inputs, ideally by mid-October, to cater to our specific ecological regions. It would be beneficial to establish at least one collection point in each ward, especially where our local market is located. This would greatly reduce transportation costs before the harvesting period commences on the 1st of March 2024. In addition, we kindly request that buyers institute a cash-and-carry system for the prompt payment of our produce, particularly cotton and grains. This will enable our hardworking farmers to realize better profits,” she suggested with determination.

A student named Tafadzwa Mhishi, who currently walks 20km to a nearby secondary school, expressed concerns over the state of education in rural areas. Mhishi appealed for the addition of primary schools, because the ward only has three, and the establishment of at least three more operational secondary schools. Long distances to schools have led to high dropout rates, particularly among girls.

Mhishi further suggested completing the construction of Mangisi Secondary School under the Community Development Fund (CDF) before the onset of the rainy season. The increase of funds from the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) was also requested, considering the rising number of orphans in the ward who require financial support.

¬†“We are looking forward CDF to completing Mangisi secondary school before the rainy season since it has one block with no floors and windows. Beam funds should be increased by 40% because the number of orphans in our ward increased rapidly and should be timeously paid,” said Mhishi.

The need for a fully functional health facility was raised by Chido Mhlanga, who emphasized the completion of Karova Clinic. Funding was requested for essential finishing touches, including plastering, flooring, ceiling, and paving. Additionally, the renovation of the DDF house at the clinic would be vital for its opening. Approximately 60 villages stand to benefit from the clinic’s operation.

Chido Mhlanga continued by addressing the pressing need for road rehabilitation in the area. The Mangisi School access road, spanning 7km, and the Kubenengurira, Guyu, Gundura, and Charama access road, stretching 25km, were identified as crucial routes necessitating improvement. These developments would enhance accessibility to Kubenengurira School, Guyu Business Center, Gundura Clinic and Business Center, and Charama Primary and Secondary Schools and Business Center.

Furthermore, attention was drawn to the inadequate availability of curriculum textbooks in Karova Primary, Mangisi Primary, and Charama Primary and Secondary Schools. It was proposed that the council allocate a budget for the purchase of textbooks for both learners and teachers across all subjects.

Mrs. Bhamu, a Social Economic Justice Ambassador (SEJA) from Ward 31, highlighted the issue of informal traders operating within the district without contributing to the council. Bhamu suggested that the council erect market stalls or shades for these traders to operate from and levy them accordingly. With formal employment diminishing and drug abuse on the rise, Bhamu also advocated for the establishment of a vocational training center at Manyoni Rural Service Center in January 2024. This center would provide training opportunities for youth and women in various self-help jobs, creating employment while reducing idle time that often leads to drug abuse.

“Formal employment has diminished and drug abuse is on the increase. We ask the Gokwe South RDC budget to provide for the establishment of a vocational training center at Manyoni Rural Service Center in January 2024. This will help by training youth and women in various self-help jobs, creating employment for them, and reducing the idle time that usually leads to drug abuse. It is our conviction that Devolution funds can suffice,” said Bhamu.

Addressing healthcare concerns, the completion of Karova Clinic was prioritized once again, with the focus shifting to supporting the clinic with essential materials. The funding sought would cover cement for flooring, interior plastering, paving, and plumbing, as well as the renovation of the DDF house at the clinic, including doors, window panes, and painting. Additionally, for the 22 operational clinics in the district, the proposal involved allocating funds for the purchase of common drugs such as painkillers, antibiotics, and ARVs, which currently face shortages.

Water access remained a significant challenge, with over 60 non-functioning boreholes throughout the district. The primary causes were worn-out cylinders and other necessary apparatus. To address this, it was suggested that the council budget include provisions for the purchase of cylinders, accessories, and crucial tools like vice grips and pulleys to facilitate the repair of the boreholes.

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