The Mutare CSOs meeting follows another successful one held earlier this month in Masvingo province. CSOs from Masvingo province have already presented their position paper on the priority areas that need to be looked into at the National Convergence.
The Mutare meeting was attended by 20 representatives from 20 civic society organizations who participated in crafting the Manicaland province position paper that would be tabled at the National Convergence in December.
Issues discussed at the Mutare meeting covered political, economic as well as social challenges.
Participants noted that political polarization had adversely affected development in Matabeleland province.
This, they sad largely emanated from divisive tactics being employed by the ruling party, Zanu (PF) politicians as a way of maintaining their grip on power.
It was noted during the meeting that the highly volatile political environment in the province was blocking people with the capacity to deliver from taking leadership roles. Another issue of concern raised was the centralization of power that has resulted in Members of Parliament (MPs) imposing their party decisions on the electorate.
The participants also noted that corruption (in areas of land allocation and diamond mining) by politicians had affected development in Manicaland province.
Human rights violations by law enforcement agents were also highlighted as a major cause for concern with participants noting that citizensâ€™ ignorance over their constitutional rights and freedoms had led to the violation of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) Programmes Manager, Edson Dube said CSOs needed to embark on public awareness programmes so that citizens are enlightened on their constitutional rights.
â€œSince the adoption of the Constitution in 2013, there has not been enough effort to ensure that it is popularized. Authorities were supposed to take advantage of the high literacy rate in Zimbabwe but that has not been the case.
â€œYou will find out that in remote areas, some people are not even aware that we adopted a new constitution in 2013 and that is a challenge to civic society to ensure that this issue is addressed,â€ said Dube.
On the economic side, participants noted that high levels of corruption and failure by mining companies to honour up on the Community Share Ownership Trusts had resulted in Manicaland province failing to amass benefit from the discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa.
Internal displacements were also highlighted as one of the problems affecting the people of Manicaland province.
The participants blamed ruling party politicians for conniving with mining companies to loot diamonds for personal benefit at the expense of development in Manicaland province and the nation at large.
â€œEven in terms of corporate social responsibility, the mining companies did nothing meaningful for the people of Manicaland. Instead, we have people who were displaced to pave way for mining activities and are now living in abject poverty yet they were supposed to be the biggest beneficiaries of the diamonds,â€ said Weston Makoni from Penhalonga Residents Association.
Other issues raised during the Mutare CSOs coordinating meeting included an increase in child marriages as a result of poverty, dilapidated infrastructure as well as high levels of unemployment that has led to drug abuse among youths.Post published in: Featured