Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
BINGA villagers have expressed concern that they are left out of local authority and national budget formulation processes, a situation they said contributes to lack of development in the Matabeleland North district as their views are not captured.

Binga borders with Hwange and Lupane in Matabeleland North Province as well as Gokwe in Midlands Province and is endowed with rich soils and wildlife.

Tourism, fishing, curio and basketry, wild fruits vending and cultural displays are some of the major economic activities with a potential to drive the area into a development hub.

However, villagers have claimed the lack of development is a result of “deliberate marginalisation” and blamed local political leaders for failing to consult and work with grassroots.

They were speaking at a Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) Alliance workshop coordinated by Binga-based Basilwizi Trust in partnership with SAfAIDS funded by Action Aid Zimbabwe and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC).

It is part of a regional project which seeks to capacitate communities and strengthen social accountability and oversight in health and agriculture in Southern Africa.

In Zimbabwe the project is being implemented in Binga focusing on health and in Mutoko in Mashonaland East with the focus being on agriculture.

Mr Prince Dubeko Sibanda was Binga North MP before being recalled from Parliament by the MDC-T led by Dr Thokozani Khupe for siding with MDC Alliance’s Mr Nelson Chamisa. Mr Joel Gabuza is Binga South MP.

Chief Saba said he has never been invited to a budget meeting.

“I sometimes attend full council meetings but I have never been invited to a budget meeting since I became chief in 2013. Usually they don’t invite us and sometimes we just hear that there was a meeting. The council usually invites businesspeople and not traditional leaders and villagers,” said Chief Saba.

He said as a result both national and local budgets don’t speak to community needs.

“They have to inform us so that we mobilise people to attend because this is key to development. We desperately need schools, clinics, water and roads as we have the worst services as a district,” he said.

Chief Siachilaba echoed the sentiments and implored leaders to constantly report back to the community for the sake of development.

Ward 9 Councillor Lameon Munkuli said none of the two MPs has held budget meetings or given any feedback about the process to the community.

“Most of us had never attended any national budget consultation meeting until this year when Basilwizi Trust helped us to go to Hwange. This became an eye opener for us and we are realising that we lag behind because we are not consulted especially about what we need as a district.

“We will give feedback to council and probably find a strategy of gathering views from the whole district and present collectively going forward,” he said.

Cllr Mathias Mudenda of Ward 8 however said villagers were reluctant to attend council meetings because of long distances from their homes to venues of the events.

“The national budget formulation process has been a top down approach where heads of departments in the district would meet and think on behalf of the general populace. People know what they want and that has not been addressed.

“Our district is closer to the Zambezi River but many of our wards have no safe water sources. Some boreholes are salty while others always get dry because we are a dry district. We should be drawing water from the Zambezi River to the wards. As for council budget meetings, we try to go to wards but it is difficult to cover all of them because of distance hence few people attend,” said Cllr Mudenda.

A 20-year-old woman from Sianzyundu, Miss Caaba Muzamba said youths have been sidelined hence their issues are usually not captured in budgets.

“We have always thought budget meetings are for adults because we have never been invited. As a result youth concerns are not addressed. We want more schools to cut distance while the available ones have no access to digital learning. We also want tertiary institutions to further our education and these are the issues we would want to present if given the opportunity,” said Miss Muzamba, a former pupil at Manjolo High School where she attained 13 points at Form Six last year.

Two national budget meetings were held in Matabeleland North province in Hwange and [email protected]