By Karen Mkwate
In a functioning democratic society, elected local and parliamentary leaders are vital pathways in which residents’ perceptions and ideas are expressed.
They are also important channels for publicising information about government activities to the people.
Citizens should think that their Members of Parliament and local councillors are always ready to offer an ear to their respective constituents.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) has however taken the initiative to close the gap between residents and duty bearers by organising a Residents and Rights Holders and Duty Bearers Interface Meeting at Gweru Memorial Library recently.
Speaking at the meeting, Gweru Urban MP Brian Dube said parliamentarians have a duty to be available to represent the communities that elect them.
“We must participate effectively and seek to influence policy in ways that respond to the needs of this constituency,” said Dube.
“We are here to communicate and collaborate with our constituents’ to document, know, understand, profile, and solve the problems that affect residents.”
He added that citizens do not have the knowledge on how to measure the performance of their representatives and people should be informed and educated on how they can effectively know how their leader is performing.
“People need to understand that, on Wednesdays when ZBC is televising parliament business it’s not the day on which issues of great importance such as policy and law making decisions are done but on Mondays and Thursdays,” he said.
At the same occasion, Chiwundura MP Livingstone Chimina stated that, our political context in Zimbabwe is polarised and negatively impacts on efforts to foster sustainable development in constituencies.
He said there was a need to minimise polarisation and create an environment that is conducive for democracy and sustainable development.
“The ruling party is using institutional powers derived from controlling the State to punish the opposition but the biggest victim is the ordinary citizen caught between the two political parties,” he said.
“It’s sad when our government is recognising shadow MPs more than the elected MPs in their constituencies. All programmes of the government that are done are given credit to those not elected into office. In order for us to bring development we need to be united and objective.”
Meanwhile, GRRA Executive Director, Cornilia Selipiwe encouraged residents to try and get as much information from the legislators and to attend meetings to help and contribute towards the development of the city.
The meeting was also attended by Gweru Urban councilors including Danny Ndava for Ward 14, Tawanda Magidi Ward 16, Farai Muza Ward 17 and Gideon Mugariri Ward 7.