Tohwe, July 2014
Tohwe area provided a story of change that was a good indicator of the impact of lobbying and advocacy workshops. In this instance, there are two persons (Mbewe and Mguni) who attended the training of trainers’ workshop on lobbying and advocacy in Bulawayo on the 14th March 2014. The two persons (Ms Mbewe and Mr. Mguni) were representing their area in this workshop and they did point out that a critical bridge collapsed during the rainy season. This bridge is so critical in the sense that it links the community with Nkayi district council, Bulawayo (the metropolitan city) and Mbuma mission where there is a hospital.
When Mbewe and Mguni came back from Bulawayo, they spearheaded the formation of a committee whose sole responsibility was to see the reconstruction of the bridge. This was lobbying and advocacy on the ground with a clearly outlined focus. They approached village heads and local councillor, who then called a village assembly. This assembly mandated the committee to approach the rural district authorities. They approached the rural district council who made it clear that they do not have any funds to reconstruct the bridge. According to the rural council, the bridge is out of the current five year budget. It is worthwhile to note that Mbewe and Mguni remained the active and decisive leaders in this committee leading the efforts to find a solution to the collapsed bridge.
The council referred the committee to the Ministry of Transport officials who equally claimed that their financial coffers were empty, but said that in case villagers source their funds, the ministry was willing to provide technical support. The ministry of transport encouraged the residents to constantly inform them on every initiative they would have done.
Even after meeting these disappointments, this committee has not yet given up the efforts to reconstruct the bridge. They are now waiting to meet potential donors on the 18th of July 2014. Both Mbewe and Mguni gave a report in this workshop on the developments concerning the road. They openly expressed gratitude to lobbying and advocacy workshops as they noted that they gained the necessary skills that have empowered them to carry out this task.
In our observations as facilitators, this experience of Mbewe and Mguni has had a ripple effect on the whole community. People have developed a sense of confidence to approach local authorities on developmental issues that affect them. The two local leaders have also gained a lot of confidence in that Ms. Mbewe even addressed the whole whole workshop without feeling shy as she usually did before. The community leaders (mostly men) also respected Ms Mbewe and even congratulated her for all her efforts for the community.
All our efforts are starting to bear fruits as an Institution (DHPI) that has remained resolute in building the rural communities.