|Community of Practitioners on Accountability and Social Action in Health||
In Zimbabwe, the stated policy goals for decentralization have been to bring comprehensive and democratic systems of involving the local community in the process of planning and implementation and taking into account the developmental needs and priorities of the district, ward and village levels. The local government legal framework includes the Rural District Councils (RDC) Act of 1998, the Traditional Leaders Act 200 and the Urban Councils Act of 1988. The RDC and Urban Councils are the devolved authority of local government and are composed of elected Councilors. They are responsible for planning and implementation of local development projects in their respective districts, based on the needs expressed by local residents through WADCOs, VIDCOs/ neighborhoods. RDC and town councils mobilize funds for their operations through rates, licenses and investments but these have to be approved by central government. The RDC and Urban Council levels provide more potential for the participation of local communities in development and decision-making than the provincial level.
Despite the above, Zimbabwe has a lot of parallel local government structures that still need to be harmonized including the elected leadership, traditional leadership, central government appointed leadership and political party leadership structures. At present, the majority of residents in both rural and urban areas are frustrated by the poor performance of the local government structures and by the political interference from central government and the ruling party. The existing structural problem in Zimbabwe is that local government is controlled by and more answerable to central government than to the ordinary citizens and ratepayers who would have elected local Councilors. In Zimbabwe, limited access to information and knowledge on civil and political rights hinders effective participation in decision making among the poor and marginalized people, particularly young people and women. The local authorities/decision makers tend to take advantage of the ignorance of the poor and ordinary citizens and therefore make key decisions without consulting them. Local government in Zimbabwe is decentralized in principle and theory but centralized in its operations and administrative procedures.
The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) is a network of civic and community-based organizations that aim to collectively enhance community participation in health in Zimbabwe. It was formed in early 1998 to take up health issues of common concern. It now networks over 35 organisations in 27 districts in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe. Since inception, CWGH has been applying community monitoring approaches in all districts of operation, though the work has become more pronounced with the transformation of the civic education program into the health literacy program. Using Participatory Reflection and Action approaches, communities have organised for and monitored health actions at local.
Area of Work