Gweru City Council Institutional Profile

Gweru City Council Institutional Profile

Date: October 9, 2013
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“The COE process is a good project as it is changing the minds of policymakers. GL is doing this for our own benefit even though it is not a monetary or tangible benefit. GL is giving us knowledge and an education that we can apply even way after the COE project has ended”

Sitting at the heart of Zimbabwe is the City of Gweru. This town has a strategic position, as it links the country with neighbouring countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

As a provincial capital and hub of economic activities in the midlands province, this city attracts large numbers of migrants from surrounding rural areas. This council has a vision to be a clean, green and dynamic city. Their mission is to provide effective and efficient services to the people of Gweru.

The Gweru Town Council started working with Gender Links in 2009. The council has participated in the Local Government summit three times. They managed to scoop the 2012 runner-up award in the Local Economic Development category and the 2012 Institutional COE award at the national level.

As a Centre of Excellence, the council has committed to mainstream gender in all its areas of work. The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the Millennium Development Goals closely guide in the roll out of their work.

“Before the COE process, we were doing mainstreaming. However; we did not know we were doing it the right way. Gender issues are topical issues on the international agenda. However, we were not crying out loudly enough, says Unity Jaji, Director of Housing and Community Services.” Nevertheless, when GL, came along, we then realised there were gaps. We did not have documentation like policies. We did not know how much we were implementing what the national gender policy was calling for,” she continues.

The council a has recruitment policy which gives both women and men an opportunity. The Council’s female staff have managed break barriers to occupy positions in previously male dominated areas of work. The electrical engineer, water engineer and chief town planer are female. At council level, there are disparities, as the council has 18 male councillors and 2 female councillors.

“We take pride in having females occupy male dominated arenas. We hope there will be a turnaround in the number of councillors after the coming election. Women are now inspired to be in politics as they look up to people like our Vice President Honourable Cde Joyce Mujuru, ” says Jaji.

The council’s main agenda is service delivery. It employs a multi-faceted approach in delivering the basic needs of the community. “We engage our community on so many levels that they are forthcoming, and understanding on things we cannot deliver,” says Jaji.

“In community engagements, we invite both men and women to discuss issues that concern them. They talk about water, rubbish collection, bad roads, facilities and even their bills.
Community projects sites like the nutrition gardens and vending stalls have become a place where the community engages in debate and discussions on topical issues that concern them, and this helps them make informed decisions. From these discussions, people write letters to council to raise concerns on high tariffs, facilities that are broken down or lack of water. We encourage women to participate in projects and also to vote for other women. Through voter education, they get help to realise that women can equally participate in politics,” she continues.

This council has been facing challenges in the adoption of its policy. It has not been able to sign the policy. They are however being guided by the National Gender Policy. Funding to sponsor initiatives to mainstream gender is also a challenge in the council.

“We are running a gender budgeting programme with the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre Network (ZWRCN), where council is being taught about gender budgeting
We will consider this plight of the majority, who are women and we are putting them as first preference in these community projects,” says Jaji.

“The COE process is a good project, as it is changing the minds of policymakers. GL is doing this for our own benefit even though we know there aren’t monetary or tangible benefits. GL is giving us knowledge and an education that we can apply even way after the COE project has ended.”

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