A recent survey has revealed that citizen engagement on the use of public resources is still a major challenge in the country, with citizens from predominantly rural areas receiving the least information about public funds management.
The Public Resource Management Situational Report of May 2021 by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) stated that citizens across Zimbabwe have very limited information on the exploitation, management and use of public resources in their communities, which in turn limits their participation in economic governance.
The report also notes how lack of consultation, information and secrecy around public funds management create fertile ground for corruption, mismanagement and abuse of public office.
According to the survey, in 30 districts only 56% respondents said they are sometimes consulted on public resources use, while 46% said they have never been consulted.
“Respondents are largely not informed about the exploitation, management and use of public resources in their communities, which hinders citizens’ participation and meaningful engagement in economic governance.
“Failure of local authorities to share information on public funds results in the citizens to find difficulties in challenging or influencing economic decisions in their districts like what happened in Bulawayo where residents were silenced for asking about ward retention funds,” reads part of the report.
The report also revealed that Bulawayo City Council among other local authorities did not properly consult residents when it hiked rates by 400 percent in January 2021, and after an outcry by residents they later did a reportedly cosmetic consultation.
It further stated that 52% of respondents reported that local authorities never share information on public resources with citizens while 48% said they sometimes share, resulting in citizens finding difficulties in influencing economic development.