(By Ben Mbangu in Monze)
MONZE residents have called for transparency and proper accountability in the identification of projects to be undertaken such as feeder roads and bridges.
They say doing so enhances citizens’ ability to participate in the local governance and decision-making process.
Speaking at the Civil Society Participation Programme (CSPP) initiative titled ‘People’s participation in local governance’ organised by AVAP under the sponsorship of GIZ in Monze’s Hatontola ward on Tuesday, headman Namuseba, who spoke on behalf of other headmen, questioned the criteria the local authority was using in selecting projects adding that needy areas in rural communities were neglected.
“We are calling on the council to be transparent and accountable in their identification of projects they work on such as feeder roads and bridges because here in rural areas there is nothing happening yet we are producers of foodstuffs and our roads are in a deplorable state,” Namuseba said.
He said the local authority must urgently work on feeder roads in the area, which were last attended to in the UNIP era.
Namuseba said it was unfortunate that despite the economic value of feeder roads, the local authority had continued prioritising urban areas.
Another villager Patson Hamukanchali said it was difficult for farmers to transport their produce and make profit because of the high transport costs involved due to poor road network.
“In the [Dr Kenneth] Kaunda days, feeder roads were maintained but what has happened now?” Hamukanchali wondered. “We only see maybe only one road poorly graded and we are not even told about how the council arrived at the decision to pick that road and the budget is not revealed. In short, there is no transparency and how then as citizens are we going to be able to hold our local authority accountable? It is only when there is transparency that, we, citizens are able to participate in governance.”
Monze district AVAP coordinator Kebby Salisimu appealed to the council to speed up the process of establishing Ward Development Committees to enhance effective participation of communities in governance matters.
Salisimu said the absence of WDCs made it difficult for citizens at ward level to effectively participate in governance of their areas.
Responding to people’s concerns, Hatontola ward councillor Winner Hambizyi thanked AVAP and GIZ for the CSPP and LoPaGo initiative of creating a platform for citizens and the council to engage each on matters of development.
“This initiative is good because all the suggestions and recommendations that people talked about will be channeled to other relevant authorities and platforms like during the implementation of the district strategic planning which will go a long way in developing the ward and district at large,” said Hambizyi. “And these recommendations will also benefit the council in formulating people-driven policies and strategies as your will as citizens will not be left behind.”