Community members from Traditional Authority Thomas and Changata in Thyolo District have hailed the introduction of Citizen Forums saying they are now able to mobilise resources and implement development projects such as construction of roads and bridges.
Secretary for Umodzi Citizen Forum in Traditional Authority Thomas, Nyadani Maseya, said that the coming of National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) in the district with Citizen Forums under Chilungamo Project has benefited the community.
“As community we renovated Puteni Primary school by building a school block own our own, we rehabilitated Masenjere Court and built model toilets for the court with the money we raised through a mock wedding in which the bride and bridegroom were Traditional Authority Thomas himself with his wife. We also raised two hundred and fifty thousand kwacha through that mock wedding.
“Currently, we are constructing a road from Macholo to Bvumbwe and we are planning of having another mock wedding in July to raise funds to construct bridge at Makame which requires almost 50 bags of cement. We no longer depend on council or government alone because development starts with us, ” he said.
Maseya added that to show their seriousness, they have opened a bank account for the transparency and accountability purpose.
Commenting on the matter, Citizen Forum committee member, Wells Rukunya, from Traditional Authority Changata said the project has helped to reduce corruption and theft of resources.
According to Rukunya, they managed to recover stolen bags of maize, almost 40 bags, which were supposed to be distributed to beneficiaries some years back.
Luchenza municipal was not left behind in this project as NICE brought Service Charter initiative which acts as a bridge between citizens and duty bearers from the Municipal.
Luchenza ward councilor, Henderson Spoon, who is also the former Mayor of Luchenza Municipality said challenges in the collection of market fee, rental fee and ground rates are now history as people are able to see the usage of the money they pay.
In his reaction, Thyolo District Civic Education Officer for NICE, Moses Kaunda said citizen forums and Service Charter initiatives are under Chilungamo project which is phasing out by 31st January this year.
He said this on 26 January 2023 during results dissemination exercise meeting held at NICE office which was aimed at scrutinizing the fruits of the Chilungamo project.
Kaunda said; “The main objectives of Chilungamo Project are to promote accountability among the service providers. Citizens should be able to inquire any information pertaining to any development in their area. Secondly, the project encourages participation of citizens in the development issues, citizens should have a say and be part in decision making.
“Lastly, it also focuses on the access to justice whereby citizens are civilised about their rights in as far as decentralization and good governance are concerned.
He further added that in order to achieve the objectives, they formulate citizen forums in communities whereby mere community members come together and discuss issues for the benefit of their areas and whenever developmental challenges arise they find ways to resolve them.
“Communities are now aware of their responsibility in developing their areas through these forums. For instance, communities are no longer waiting for the Council or Member of Parliament to solve small development issues instead they come together and find solutions,” said Kaunda.
On service charter, Kaunda said that Luchenza Municipal vowed to be cleaning the market thrice a week, a thing that has made Luchenza to be clean always.
He urged stakeholders to join hands in promoting citizen forums as it has proved to be a powerful tools for development in villages.
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