'Community organisation new drivers of change'

HARARE - Community-based organisations are now the drivers of change because government, business, academics, politicians and even Esap has failed, an academic has said.

Academic and development expert Solomon Mungure told community-based organisations (CBOs) working under ZimRights in Bulawayo that our failures as a nation are legendary and that most times in such situations states behave like they are just not there.

He said the most vulnerable groups were the rural people and what was needed to alleviate their situation was to have bright brains that should look into their plight and change it for the better.

“The problem we have as Zimbabweans and as societies are that we do not know how to help the poor live better. The CBO should think about changing the lives of their neighbour and not of the country. The most vulnerable are the orphans — and not those orphans without parents — but by vulnerability, we are all orphans in one way or another.”

He said the handicap has been that as society while we have capabilities and potential this is not being fulfilled, hence the realisation is lost.

“The greatest struggle is what we mean about our potential and realisation and as CBOs and ZimRights you have not achieved anything yet. You need to close the gap between potential and realisation because if you do not achieve what you would have dreamt then you get frustrated.

“CBOs have to make potential closer to realisation and our frustration as a country is that while there is realisation and potential we haven’t achieved much. Your son would have grown up wanting to be an engineer but you are disappointed today because he is just doing drugs — it is frustrating.”

And he reiterated that our failures as a nation are legendary.

“You find that most times governments deliberately pretend like they are not there, they just decided to be absent. They may fail to provide Harare or Chitungwiza with water and they even cannot account for $15 billion of diamonds money.

“Why is it that we cannot have water running in Mutare suburbs while there is water running every day in Bulawayo which is a dry region…Mutare receives rains but why is it that it suffers water shortage?”

Mungure added that the State can even be absent and “fail to protect our children on the street and to me this can be construed to what I call slow genocide.  The major problem we face as a country is that our national ethos has not been formulated.

“There is no code of civil service behaviour and people are getting away with slow genocide. They are not observing bigger things that are being done wrong and bringing the country down.”

He said what Zimbabweans urgently needed is a social flow for citizens to have a basic baseline of life.

“Ignore democracy and good governance and have what is entitled to you because at the moment there is no privilege being Zimbabwean. Some Zimbabweans do not want to be identified as such because there is no benefit to be Zimbabwean. It is time that CBOs and all Zimbabweans demand to be more Zimbabwean.”

Mungure said he prefers a dictatorship that delivers than a democracy that does not give anything.

“Talk of success and paradoxes, look at Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, he provided his country’s nationals with the best social services but at times good things confuse people and they said they wanted political freedom and what did they get?

“In Zimbabwe we fought and all we got was political freedom. We forgot about our social, economic and cultural rights, it was never part of our agenda. We only got the land, which we cannot use. The British were happy to give us the political freedom, they knew it wasn’t all and they retained the rest, look now we speak in English!”

He called on CBOs to have harmonised voices within their communities.

“If you want democratic rights invite everyone and even if you disagree on issues that is democracy.

“As CBOs you are on the ground to give awareness to organisations like ZimRights and through you the imagination of ministers in Harare is awakened. The most intelligent person is one who sees where others do not see anything and we are challenging you to be the eyes that are plated on the ground.”

Mungure bemoaned the high cost of seeking medical attention.

“If you have a heart problem you need to go to India and it costs $30 000 and those in South Africa just have to go to Durban. But these are medical issues we should be attending to at home. The cost of treating cancer is not sustainable here and even kidney failures where you need close to $100 a day to receive treatment.”

He said corruption has to be fought from the communities were ordinary people reside.

“We are the people fuelling corruption; it is not the minister who is corrupt but us keeping the corrupt ministers by feeding their systems. We are responsible for the sustenance of a corrupt regime because we pay the police at roadblock, hence feed the cycle.”

Mungure said community share ownership programmes were made to hoodwink communities because by allowing these companies to mine “those extracting are happy keeping you away from the centre of mining.”

He urged CBOs to investigate and find out why Chivi has a legendary history of receiving donor funding.

“And they receive it in success — water harvest and gardening. CBOs need to study that community and I would urge CBOs connect to national and international programmes — and tie them with their own programmes.’

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said CBOs have a lot of work within their communities and that they should not just ignore when their rights are abused.

“You have people jumping over flowing sewage and going to work. We cannot have a society that ignores issues and we are saying as CBOs your work is to be the community’s voice. We want to hear what is happening in every corner of the country where you are. Send us messages on what is transpiring within your communities so they can be addressed with urgency.

“We do not want CBOs to be quiet, silent when your land is being taken away from you, when title deeds are being revoked, when your roads are not accessible. We cannot just watch while corruption engulfs our councils, we need to make those responsible jump and work.”

ZimRights national vice chairperson Takesure Musiiwa said the reason to have functioning CBOs partnering with his organisation is to enhance the citizen participation through the doing as individuals are doing.

“The CBO should have an interface with ZimRights structures coming from particular provinces, compare an share notes and they should be able to know what they are doing in respective provinces.”


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