Masvingo City Council Institutional Profile

Masvingo City Council Institutional Profile

Date: October 9, 2013
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“Misconceptions are abounding about gender as many may think it is just about promoting women into managerial posts or that we are fighting for women. There is now an understanding of gender mainstreaming as giving people equal opportunities and being able to equally access resources that are there…”

The Masvingo City Council is in the Masvingo Province known for the historical monumental ruins of Great Zimbabwe. It is one of the oldest cities in Zimbabwe, and is well located, with great potential for attracting investors in various sectors, including farming, tourism and mining.

The city is run by the Masvingo City Council, which has 11 councilors, 8 male, and 3 female. The Masvingo City council is relatively new to the Local Government Centers of Excellence project as they have completed up to Stage 5 of the process. They have come up with a plan that has not been adopted. The city’s council joined the COE programme in 2011. Since then, it had been making strides in improving gender issues.

“In our council there has been no resistance to the project. It is a matter of taking gender to the fore front. Gender mainstreaming is not bringing in a new idea. Things that happen in the community involve women, and the council has been able to address their concerns in all they do,” says Annette Breda Matron at the Mucheke Clinic and Gender Focal person the council. “Misconceptions are abounding about gender, as many may think it is just about promoting women into managerial posts or that we are fighting for women. There is now an understanding of gender mainstreaming as giving people equal opportunities and being able to equally access resources that are there. The concept is beginning to be understood so the fear that existed when people talked about gender is no longer there.”

The gap may lie in that people are not at a stage where they can take ownership of the programme. It will be wonderful if people could be able to take ownership of the process to stir the process forward and not rely mainly on the focal person to prompt and coordinate gender activities so people in the council need to take the reins,” Breda continues.
Several development projects are underway across the city. These will go a long way in improving service delivery, as well as improving the living conditions for the residents. Among these projects is the improvement of water and sanitation, construction of more health facilities, and paving more land for residential and business stands.
The Masvingo City council managed to source funds to improve various projects in the city including maternal health and education.

Council has had a lot of input into local economic development through the construction of factory shells and market stalls to empower women who are mainly the beneficiaries of the programme. Up to date, several women have started working in this light industry doing tailoring, and the council has 445 female owned market stalls and 172 male owned market stalls. Although the council does not have a stand-alone local economic development policy, the council’s strategic plan supports it. They also have a local finance scheme in the form of a revolving fund for SMEs, and the informal sector. 99 people have benefitted from this.

“There is more dealing with the community and allowing the community to come in and express their concerns and needs. We involve the public on what they want to see the council budget reflecting. There is a lot of consultation before the budget is finalized. They can come and ask us how we are handling the water and why there are shortages, or ask why the water does not look clean. The community is allowed to participate in the planning and activities of council, for example on the project to increase water reticulation, we empowered residents with knowledge on how it works, showed them the different areas of water works and why there was need for resources to carry this forward. Therefore, they could appreciate council’s plans.”
We communicate well with our community; we are always in touch with them and our facilities are open to them. Over time; the council has been facing several challenges. One challenge has been in providing adequate water for the community. Council has, however, come up with a schedule to allow water reservoirs to fill. Due to the increased population, there has been increased pressure on the systems in place. Therefore, water is cut off overnight and early in the morning, water is made available.

Council has also been effective in taking care of the vulnerable and less advantaged in society. “The Masvingo City Council is one of our biggest supporters and a critical stakeholder,” says Michael Machuku, superintendent at the Alpha Cottages Children’s Home. It offers voluntary services like water supply, electrical installation and repair as well as plumbing. It ensures that the children`s home continues to run smoothly,” he adds. These free services have been crucial because of the poor funding experienced by Alpha Cottages. The running costs would have brought the home to a grinding halt had the council not been supportive.

The council availed 5 hectares of land for the home at no cost. This land is under good, productive use. A vegetable garden which supplies the children`s home and the community has been established. The home has also just started a rabbit-rearing project. In the same light, the council has appointed a special needs councilor who represents the physically disadvantaged in the community. They have a voice and an ear through this councilor who can bring forward their concerns.
“Having a budget would help council in mainstreaming gender as they only have the mainstream budget from where they draw money to facilitate the gender activities. This council has improved from the time they started rolling out the COE process. “Having a stirring committee or a working group to help action the actual plan could possibly help the council,” says Breda.

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