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Enhancing Citizen Participation

Enhancing Citizen Participation

The enhancing citizen participation in governance processes project will be implemented in Gweru district’s 18 wards and 3 wards in Vungu District targeting residents (duty bearers, women, youths and People with Disabilities (PWD s) from 2023 to 2025.  The objectives of the project will include: To build the capacity of women and youth so that they are able to champion service deliver issues and also enhance their participation in the governance process, to support home-grown initiatives at ward level that help to improve service delivery and to enhance engagement between duty bearers and rights holders and build their capacity for improved service delivery.  The project will use a model called Engagement for Progress (E4P) model which lays the basis on the importance of community engagement evidenced by our success stories in the first phase of the project conducted between 2019-2022. GRRA realised that engagement can lead to improved and sustainable outcomes for communities when the duty bearers seek out the aspirations, concerns, and values of residents and visa-versa. The project will encompass various activities specifically tailored for both the residents and duty bearers focusing both the demand and supply side.

The activities to be done are clearly outlined below.

Ward Consultative Meetings

This initiative will be aimed at creating a platform of engagement between the councilor and residents in 18 wards of Gweru and 3 wards of Vungu Rural District.  Residents due to various reasons do not have the opportunity to meet up with their councilor and discuss the issues affecting their ward. Some of the reasons may be political and some may be just a result of residents losing confidence and trust in their councilor. GRRA is an organization that is nonpolitical and impartial and a hence platform that are created by GRRA are very beneficial to the community and residents are very able to express themselves.  Residents through these meetings will be able to collectively come up with solutions to the problems that affect their wards and also get an opportunity to get feedback from their councilor and also get answers to the questions that they might have. The objectives of the meeting include: to give a platform of engagement between resident and their councilor, and coming up with collective solutions to address service delivery challenges being faced by residents in all wards.

Service Delivery Champions Training

This activity is for GRRA ward structures in the Gweru and Vungu in order to create high-level
consciousness towards residents, on how they understand their current realities in their respective communities. These will result in the beneficiaries developing action plans to address their needs such as water and sanitation, road maintenance, and refuse collection, as part of the project’s sustainability efforts. The training will be participatory and will build on the personal and collective experiences of ward structures, therefore allowing for common relevancy that can be identified by all participants. The training workshops will be implemented and facilitated by trainers who have been trained at national, provincial, and ward levels. We shall train residents (women, youths, senior citizens and PWDs) from our ward structures to effectively advocate for quality service delivery in the city of Gweru. This will build the capacity of our members to demand accountability and transparency regarding the issues of service delivery.

Participatory Budget Meetings

We shall openly invite residents to participate in the budgeting process. Moreover, this enables policy-makers and residents come to the table to discuss budget issues. Our citizen participation processes are both educative about how it is important to continually participate in budget decisions and tracking all year round to keep duty bearers in check. We are going to educate and inform women, youths and men for one day. These workshops will be in the form of discussions and lectures. Residents in Gweru will be trained on how they can track performance of the budget through a budget tracking toolkit with the assistance of a facilitator. The budget tracking toolkit will be a personal manual for residents to learn the following:  ensuring that there are clear links between budget setting and strategic/operational plans, investigating matters in the public interest or address financial issues raised by Gweru residents, overseeing how the council is pooling its resources with partner entities to tackle jointly agreed priorities.

Accountability Forums

This is one of our key emerging approaches in the participatory approach to developmental discourse, in a bid to address socioeconomic inequalities in our city. Good governance is also a major component of this approach showing that there is a correlation between an effective governance system and the level of socioeconomic development in Gweru. Our Accountability Forums will place residents and councilors at the epi-center of service delivery, especially in relation to the decision-making process and oversight of our local authority (Gweru City Council) policies. The residents will scrutinize issues to do with social services, such as health, housing, water, sanitation, road maintenance, etc. The approach emphasizes direct engagement between the councilors and residents in policy decision-making through a broad range of actions and mechanisms that promote dialogue. Our Indabas seek to create the following: a practical platform for meaningful participation amongst residents, civic society groups, and council, constructive participation to enhance confidence within communities in their ability to play an impactful role to improve council accountability and service delivery and improving the oversight role of residents and civic societies as intermediators in the city.

Leaders We Want Dialogues

The leaders elected into office are key in the provision of service delivery in the City of Gweru. In this meeting residents will meet aspiring candidates, con0testing for councillors and Member of Parliament deliberate around what the candidates will offer them through panel discussions with professional moderation. At the same time, aspiring candidates presenting their ward and constituency development plans and political party manifestos of what they want to achieve to spur the development agenda. Providing the platform for women, youth and PWDs to scrutinise the quality of their candidates who will represent their service delivery concerns.

Youth Participation Dialogues

It’s vital to engage young people to give them a better understanding of local governance processes, and if they see changes made as a result of their participation, they are more likely to remain engaged later in life. Taking the time to involve young people in decision-making is a great way of developing the citizens and leaders of the future. These youth meetings will include junior councillors and MPs from Gweru and Vungu wards and constituencies. These youths will discuss on service delivery issues affecting them and coming up with solutions on how best to tackle them with the presence of a facilitator.

Councillors and Technocratic Trainings

This is an induction meeting for councillors and management to assist them to effectively execute their day-to-day roles and what is expected from them by residents of Gweru. A manual/workbook will be designed for councillors and technocrats as a distance learning tool during the workshop. The manual/workbook will be intended to provide councillors and technocrats with insight and assistance with the key skills which will help them to be most effective in their roles. The workbook should serve as a useful reminder of some of the key skills, approaches and tactics that make for an effective ward councillor and technocrat.

Residents Indabas

This initiative will be aimed at creating community participation platforms for residents of all 18 wards of Gweru and 3 wards of Vungu rural district. This intends to come up with vibrant communication around service delivery amongst multiple stakeholders including civil society, academia, media and residents to come together and proffer solutions on how best we can address poor refuse collection and water challenges in the city. Duty bearers to report back and account to residents about council decisions, plans and budgets. The resident’s indaba will have the following objectives: to inform people of new services, tariffs, developments and policies, to come up with inclusive solutions to address service delivery challenges being faced by Gweru residents.

Water Ideas Summits

This demand-driven initiative will be aimed at addressing multiple challenges emanating from the weak provision of portable water to the heterogeneous citizenry. This Indaba intends to come up with broad-based resolutions and consensus around water provision amongst multiple stakeholders including the council, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC), Residents Association, civil society, academia, media, and residents to come together and proffer solutions on how best we can address the water challenges currently haunting the city towards inclusive service provision. The objectives of the meeting include: raising consensus among residents and ratepayers to understand their water rights, increasing stakeholder engagement to understand the water challenges, and coming up with inclusive solutions to address the water challenges being faced by Gweru residents. Open plenary from the participants to ask the discussants questions and also come up with inclusive solutions to address the water challenge.

Radio Talk-shows

The radio program will be in a talk show program type. There will be a program host and guest speakers. The discussion spot or segment of the program will also invite credible guest speakers and advocates in an interview that will serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas in promoting transparency and accountability of public funds to improve service delivery in Gweru. The host will include councillors and the GRRA secretariat. The program will contain a variety of different issues that include, a discussion, an in-depth feature, and some short filler items. The programme will discuss issues concerning water supply, refuse collection, road maintenance, and budget processes concerning Gweru City Council (GCC).