BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT has been urged to consult the public when making decisions on natural resource utilisation and management in order for citizens to benefit.
A recent survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) showed that the majority of citizens felt that they were being excluded in decision-making processes on the use of public resources.
Zimcodd conducted a survey on public resource management in 57 districts across the country’s 10 provinces where 85% of the respondents indicated that they were not consulted on how public resources in their areas should be utilised.
The report stated that 15% of the respondents said they were sometimes consulted, while 5% reported that they were consulted when public resource utilisation decisions were made at local authority level.
“A sound public resource management system is essential for effective and sustainable economic management and public service delivery,” Zimcodd said.
“It is worrisome to note that equal access to public resources by different genders has remained a challenge in Zimbabwe. A weak public resource management system at the local authority and central government levels has perpetuated a culture of unaccountability, lack of transparency, corruption, embezzlement, rent-seeking and all forms of resource leakages. Natural resources continue to be siphoned outside the country at the detriment of impoverished citizens in general and those in mining host communities in particular leaving the community with little or nothing to benefit from its natural resources. “
The majority of the respondents also indicated that they felt there was no equitable distribution of resources.
The survey also found that access to public resources was significantly poor for the elderly. Some 43% and 52% of women and youth, respectively, in sampled districts rated access to public resources as poor.
Combined Harare Residents Association acting director Reuben Akili said lack of consultation on resource utilisation resulted in authorities failing to prioritise beneficiaries’ needs.
“Without consultation, there is no sense of ownership. The priorities of the authorities may not meet the expectations of the citizens. That is when sometimes people resist complying with some of their obligations like paying rates because they would be divorced from the decision-making processes at the grassroots,” Akili said.
Chivhu residents and Rate Payers Association chairperson Collen Zvarevashe said: “Residents ought to (participate) in developmental issues that would have been initiated by the authorities if they are not consulted. Lack of consultation affects service delivery.”