The residents of Masvingo Central Constituency, ward 16 and 18, have resolved to jointly construct a permanent structure for a community information centre.
The two-roomed community information centre currently at window level is being built inside the Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) Mutirikwi Peace Garden and Nursery in Chirambamuriwo villager under Chief Shumba in ward 18. The residents have come to this resolution after facing challenges in accessing free and enough space for the information centre in public institutions such as clinics and schools. In business centres where space is available the rentals are high and unsustainable. Currently the villagers are using a temporary structure as an information centre. Therefore, for sustainability purposes the villagers agreed to contribute towards the construction of Mutirikwi Information Centre.
The establishment of information centres started during previous COTRAD conflict prevention, peace building and social accountability monitoring projects. However, the community has decided to sustain the initiative by embracing community ownership through taking full responsibility of the construction of a permanent structure for the information centre. The information centre has been located between ward 16 and ward 18 boundary, to allow both wards to access the information. The information centre shall serve a multipurpose, primarily to provide everyone with useful, practical information for daily chores and also an office for the peace garden project amongst other purposes.
In rural areas, the need for information cannot be overestimated as it is a major contributory factor to the lack of progress and community participation in the development process. The COTRAD information centres seeks to intensify information dissemination on development, humanitarian issues, peace building and social accountability. The provision of alternative sources of information improves the capacity and knowledge of the community members to actively play a role in social accountability monitoring, peace building and community development.
The government has an obligation to ensure that citizens are protected from the barrage of misinformation by providing the public with facilities where they can access reliable, evidence-based information. COTRAD Community information centres complement support for the government in ensuring access to information in rural areas. Access to information is a constitutional right enshrined in section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that, every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability or protection of a right.