Dated 14 July 2020
Compiled by Billian Tino Matambo
People say ignorance is not defence but pardon me looking at our community and its local leadership we can agree with one another that yes actually ignorance is indeed defence. Our local leadership are battling to make a choice between what they think is right and what is actually right and true.
Early last year after learning about the ‘follow the money’ concept through a program which was coordinated by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association where community monitors were capacitated with the knowledge about taxes which we remit to our Rural District Councils, Value Added Tax and Pay As You Earn and what the taxes are used for. The knowledge was an eye opener, and it changed my community for good.
My Village Head, Mr Samuel Murai always moves door to door year in, year out collecting head taxes. It’s so sad that for more than five years he has been mandated with the same task. Having learnt a lot about taxes from ZELA I thought of asking him what the community was benefiting from the plough back money we get from Mutare Rural District Council but his response shocked me.
He told me openly that everytime he pay head taxes to Mutare RDC they always award him with a token of appreciation and he was so happy that the council always recognizes his work. Innocently he believed in his ignorance. I took some time and educated him on why RDC was paying the 10% back. Sharing with him that I have learnt during ZELA awareness raising meetings that the plough back money was meant for community development. At first, I thought he was pretending but no he was being truthful.
It brought me joy this year, after collecting taxes the village head called residents for a meeting and discussed what the community need at that moment which is urgent in line with development. The majority of women who attended the meeting pleaded that they need our long-forgotten boreholes repaired, since they stopped working three years ago due to lack of service.
Culturally the duty to provide clean water for the family has always unfortunately been placed on women. Most women travelled for almost 2km daily to fetch clean drinking water. It was hard that even older women would travel that long distance in search of clean water. The news brought all joy and ululation when the village head agreed that the plough back money be used for the repairing of boreholes. Three boreholes in Murai Village were repaired that following week and now three of them are functioning well. As a community we now have clean safe water accessible to everyone. It is all joy now for all the women in the community, our burden is eased now.
Knowledge is power, I personally want to salute ZELA for the great work .