Mberengwa embraces PPD with success


Mberengwa district community and stakeholders work together to lay infrastructure for Bire irrigation scheme

Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
PUBLIC Private Dialogue enhances inclusive growth, accountability and poverty reduction as it places responsibilities on the social partners, Government, community and business to contribute to recovery and define the trajectory for economic growth together.

In community development dialogue presents a platform to hear from the stakeholders on advancing economic development at the same time balancing the social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.

The success of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation depends hugely on consensus created between the social partners and mobilised behind Government’s economic vision. However, economic development comes with its many challenges. Some of the problems cannot be resolved by just policy interventions.

They require public private dialogue.

Mberengwa District has embraced the PPD concept with notable success. The PPD around the use of water from Mundi Mataga Dam, which is managed by Government through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, has set the stage for the development of the district.

The district has about 200 000 people most of whom derive their water from Mundi Mataga dam which has capacity of 39 000ML and was completed in 2002.

But the construction of the dam, though a positive development had raised a few new challenges unresolved before its construction.

A conflict arose between Zinwa, the community and other stakeholders surrounding access to the dam water. Zinwa insisted on charging the community for water while council charged Zinwa for land use and farmers were not willing pay for water. The farmers owe Zinwa and Zesa about $80 000 and $10 000, respectively, which had stalled progress on the land as the utilities demanded payment.

A thriving irrigation project that has potential to feed the district was a notable casualty in the fracas. Faced by such a challenge where food security for district was under threat, Mberengwa Rural District Council adopted PPD as a way to resolve the impasse.

Mberengwa Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Julius Mashavakure believes that dialogue among stakeholders helps to generate viable inclusive solutions.

“We would prefer that there is harmony between the service providers and other stakeholders for economic development to take place. There was a conflict between Zinwa and the other stakeholders. As council we realised that there was genuine need for dialogue,” said Mr Mashavakure.

In an attempt to find solutions to the conflict, council through a resolution engaged the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation to facilitate dialogue.

CCMT focuses on sustainable development issues, community development and conflict resolution. The organisation works to transform the ways in which societies deal with conflict- away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving.

Through direct and indirect conflict interventions in response to requests from stakeholders CCMT uses several approaches which include dialogue meetings, mediation and negotiation. Following the organisation’s invitation to work with the Mberengwa District community and service providers, CCMT facilitated dialogue meetings which resulted in arrangements that are expected to improve development at the grassroots level.

Bire extension irrigation scheme committee chairperson Mrs Dorcas Masendu hailed stakeholder dialogue saying it enhances community development.

“Dialogue has helped us. We are the biggest beneficiaries because last season we could not farm because we owed the utilities. The main pipe that supplies water to the irrigation was swept away and because there was no dialogue we could not get it replaced on time. However, we are pleased now that because of dialogue we have managed to work together as stakeholders to replace the pipe and have agreed payment plans which will allow us to start work on our plots,” said Mrs Masendu.

Bire Extension irrigation scheme has 253 farmers who own smallholder plots on Phase 1 of the irrigation land accessing water from Mundi Mataga dam.

CCMT director Mrs Stembile Mpofu said PPD should form the core of the mechanisms for community development and this is key as local development feeds into national economic success.

“Dialogue brings communities together to engage. It is the process for genuine interaction between parties that enables them to interrogate any situation and develop strategies to co-create,” said Mrs Mpofu.

As result of the intervention of CCMT through several dialogue meetings, Mberengwa RDC agreed to reduce water charges to Zinwa to $2 from $4 while the water authority agreed payment plans with the farmers to settle their debts.

Zinwa also agreed to release water from the dam at agreed intervals for free access by the community in downstream areas.

“I must say that as a result of the dialogue interaction between the community, Zinwa and other stakeholders improved. Where there’s no dialogue there is suspicion and allows everyone to reflect on their positions and leads to amicable resolution of conflicts. Where there is a win-win situation there is economic progress. If communities are not happy, local authorities who rely on the community will suffer and this will hamper local development,” said Mr Mashavakure.

Noting that the conflict threatened food security and infrastructure pillars of Zim-Asset, the local authority engaged the stakeholders to resolve the situation.

“We were doing the dialogue within the framework of Zim-Asset; especially the food and nutrition and infrastructures.”

Acting district administrator Mr Rodwell Mtetwa said for community development to succeed, there is need for close linkage between stakeholders and constant communication with Government arms.

“We have completed Phase 1 of the irrigation system. Funds permitting, we will complete the other two Phases to cover Chamakudo and Chaora communities. This dam has capacity to supply the irrigation schemes all year round,” said Mr Mtetwa.

CCMT’s Mrs Mpofu said dialogue should be inclusive, genuine and sustained if it is to register success.