Monicah Lubimbi – Zimbabwe

Date: September 23, 2015
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I maintain an open door policy which means all residents are welcome at my place of residence to discuss issues of common interest for the development of our wards. I welcome ideas from youths, women, men and institutions in the ward that need to be communicated to council for redress.

Buhlebenkosi Sibanda (263736906725) wrote the following testimony about her ward councillor: “As a resident of Ward 29 I heard of an initiative funded by World Vision to provide basic training for the less privileged in various disciplines in our ward. Our Councillor Monica Lubimbi was the facilitator. She knew about my family’s plight and facilitated my training doing a catering course. I gained invaluable knowledge and experience and as a result I am now employed at a local food outlet.

I am the breadwinner in my family and provide for four younger siblings. Our parents passed away years ago forcing me to assume responsibility as head of the family, being the oldest even though I was also a child then. Through Councillor Lubimbi’s facilitation efforts, I am now able to pay school fees for my brothers and sisters and most importantly ensure that we go to bed having had a decent meal every day. I have also managed to reduce the arrears on our electricity bill which had ballooned as it went unpaid for some time after our parents’ death.”

Here is a brief summary of achievements during the first term 2008-2013. I worked with the Bulawayo City Coucil (BCC) to fix sewer problems in the ward; the collection of litter or garbage which ensured a clean and healthy ward and worked with residents in the following projects:
Plantation projects
Rabbit and bee keeping
Mushroom growing
Food for work programs
Community cleaning groups
Establishment of a community health working group

I sourced five boreholes for Masotsha, Mazwi Primary school, Magwegwe West shopping centre, Mthimkhulu primary and Magwegwe West gardens and introduced neighborhood watch committees in the ward and assisted people with water bill arrears in working out payment plans including ZESA and Tel-one.

During my second term from 2013 to 2018 I was chairperson for health, housing and education. During the first term 2008-2013 I was the deputy chairperson of the health, housing and education committee. It was during that period that l gained experience in the provision of social services in the areas of health, housing and education.

My personal mission statement is that I look forward to a cordial and fulfilling working relationship until 2018 when my term of office expires. I remain a humble, confident and faithful servant of the people of ward 29 and Bulawayo City Council.

Resources were mobilised so that 20 children were assisted to obtain birth certificates and five wheelchairs received from partners.

Being a woman councillor in these harsh socio-economic times presents a number of challenges. More and more people in the ward are finding it difficult to make ends meet. When they meet with social difficulties they tend to come to the councillor for help and that means more time is consumed seeking relief aid from relief partners at the expense of developmental programmes. Children drop out of school which leads them to resort to substance abuse, especially the boys.

They then become a nuisance at street corners and shopping centres. Some youths are tempted to join the great trek down south to “Egoli” to seek greener pastures. When they go there they usually use illegal border crossing points and girls risk being raped or being forced into transactional sex for the passage into South Africa where they will meet xenophobic attacks from locals who feel they come to snatch their jobs. Foreigners in South Africa tend to accept lower wages than the locals so generally they are preferred by employers.

Being the chairperson for the health, housing and education committee for the City of Bulawayo has made me more aware of gender issues arising in that sector. So far we have managed to keep the City reasonably clean by ensuring refuse is collected regularly in the residential areas, central business district and all institutions such as educational institutions hospitals and police camps. Furthermore on sanitation, council has a call centre which we encourage our residents to report all blockages so that they can be attended to in time. We have community groups that rotate to sweep the streets in the ward and council pays them a token and that way they get money to cover their families’ basic needs to some extent.

Farai SibandaI (263772756165) who is also Ward 29 Residents Association Chairperson gave the following testimony about his ward councillor:
“In Ward 29 we have had a smooth working relationship with our female councillor Lubimbi. Residents have a strong view that the female councillor is better than a man, from many changes introduced and implemented by Mrs Lubimbi. There are many factors that have contributed to that, namely obedience and transparency, our ward as a whole is exercising that to uphold unity and transparency.

To start with our ward covers Magwegwe North, Lobengla West and part of Intemba Drive it has people from different backgrounds. She always states that a community is one despite political backgrounds. She accommodates everyone and treats them equally. She has been very sympathetic to the elderly whom she has assisted with clothing and food stuffs. She also assists the elderly who cannot pay their bill by being the negotiator between the elderly and the service providers so that they are not disconnected.

Both the old and the young have been recruited into the community projects supported by World Vision, NYDT, Trinity and others. By doing so this has reduced the levels of alcohol and drug abuse as well as the crime rate has significantly gone down….”

Despite the economic hardships faced in the country, residents in the ward have been encouraged to pay their utility bills and have been assisted in drawing up payment plans between residents and service providers such as ZESA, Bulawayo City Council, and Tel-one.

Through partnership with organisations like Trinity, children in my ward now have their birth certificates and are able to go to school and access other services, thereby breaking the poverty cycle especially where the girl child is concerned.

I have partnered with civil society and residents in the ward are now running income generating projects. Farai Sibanda (0772756165) wrote:”She has introduced projects such as candle making…..poultry, market gardening. A number of workshops have been done in our ward through councillor Lubimbi. These include behaviour change and Zimrights, thereby educating people about their rights and who to report to for assistance. Other organisations also taught cleanliness, health and environmental awareness.”

As a community leader, I received valuable lessons about gender when I attended workshops conducted by Trinity, Gender Links, Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network. It is possible to attain the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender if you partner with other players. The only challenge is that the process of creating awareness and implementing strategies to achieve the targets was rather slow and as a result the time frame for the Protocol is about to expire when there is still a lot of work to be done at grass roots, regional and national level.

Let me repeat that I believe in serving my community to the best of my abilities. I shall continue to maintain an open door policy, ensuring the residents of Magwegwe North are not disadvantaged where service delivery is concerned.

Attainment of a gender balance is going to take a long time unless there is a strong protocol for 2016 onwards and all concerned parties play their part. Women leaders can do it and they should be given a chance. Gender Links is encouraged to continue with the local government gender mainstreaming programme.



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