Governance project: Enhancing Citizen Participation in Social and Public accountability on Social, Economic and Cultural rights in Zimbabwe.
Project Background Summary
Traditional understanding and governance focus in Zimbabwe has been limited to political governance dimensions of civil and political rights, while social and economic rights issues have been relegated to the periphery. Indeed, this could have been the missing link in Zimbabwe’s democratization agenda. After years of economic meltdown, social services in Zimbabwe across major areas of health, education, and electricity neared collapse. In 2008 Zimbabwe lost more than 4 000 lives following a cholera outbreak. The availability of essential medicines in public health institutions is still a challenge. In 2013, 72.3 per cent of all Zimbabweans were considered poor, i.e. have per capita incomes below the Total Consumption Poverty Line. More than 90% of active and capable citizens are unemployed and cannot find jobs. Most Zimbabweans are now surviving on vending, artisanal mining and subsistence farming. Zimbabwe is still largely a patriarchal society. Women carry the brunt of social responsibilities. Many still live without access to safe and clean water and sanitation in both rural and urban Zimbabwe.
Further, the importance of this area has been underscored by UNDP study (2011), which cited poor quality of services, poor performance of public servants and poor citizen participation as key barriers to socio-economic development and the realization of basic human rights and democracy. And more recently, overtures by the state to demolish ‘illegal housing’ smack off a repeat of Operation Murambatsvina. Equally, shocking revelations of corruption in the heath sector tendering processes and the expose’ of shocking management earnings across most parastatals including City of Harare, ZINARA and medical enterprises like PSMAS, while service delivery is ailing, raise key governance and public accountability questions.
It is against this contextual framework that Oxfam partnered with ZimRights and the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), to enhance citizen involvement in social and economic rights in Plumtree, Masvingo, Marondera and Chitungwiza so as to strengthen citizen participation in demanding their socio-economic rights from government institutions as well as encouraging the supply side from the responsible authorities. The project came at an opportune time especially for Chitungwiza which was the pilot target area of the first project. The second and third project provides a chance to look into some issues which were still pending from the previous project, to increase work on influencing policies and legislation, putting work to finality and also to check on the impact.
To enhance citizen participation / involvement on social and economic rights in order to strengthen demand and supply side capacity in accessing basic services as a means of promoting public accountability and democratic governance in Zimbabwe.
1. To increase the capacity of citizens’ knowledge of their socio-economic and cultural rights and promote sustained dialogue between local authorities, policy makers, human rights commissions, the private sector and their stakeholders.
2. To increase citizens’ access to justice for socio-economic rights violations.
3. To enhance principles of good governance, public accountability and transparency by duty bearers to their citizens.
4. To document good practices on social service delivery.
i. A better informed citizenry on socio-economic rights
ii. A more accountable and transparent system of local governance
iii. Reduced cases of service delivery conflicts and violence
• Structured engagement with civil society /stakeholders for enhanced transparency and accountability in service delivery.
• Training of monitors.
• Civic education workshops on socio-economic rights and on local authorities’ regulatory frameworks.
• Engagement with Human-rights related Commissions, Policy makers, the Private sector and Media for advocacy.
• Use of Social accountability tools e.g. Community score cards; Citizen report cards, public expenditure tracking surveys, etc.
• Civic engagement through dialogue platforms.
• Establishment of collective action groups.
• Documentation of work and linkages with the UPR process, the socio-economic barometer etc.
• Legal aid.