By Daniel Itai, Harare, Zimbabwe
Leader of the opposition LEAD political party, Linda Masarira, has urged the country’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa to prioritize rural development.
“For decades the issue of rural development has just been raised during electoral campaigns for political expediency to the extent that rural folk don’t believe it anymore. There is no one who is more Zimbabwean than the other and it’s high time that all progressive Zimbabweans converge and start working towards rural urbanization in our quest to ensure sustainable human development.
Everyone has been talking about economic development with no clear framework on how that can be achieved. I have said it before and I will say it again, beyond foreign direct investment, we need to explore, develop and work with what we have first.
The future of the agricultural sector is closely linked to a balanced development of rural areas, which account for a multi sector and integrated approach to the rural economy in order to diversify activities, create new sources of income, employment and protection of rural heritage.
Government should prioritize rural development in order to decongest Harare which is overpopulated. Implementation of a rural enterprise development program will strengthen support for cooperatives to enable small scale producers to enter formal value chains. Promotion of decentralization of power and implementation of devolution is critically important if we are sincere in developing our rural communities.
We expect the Minister of Finance to consider having a budget for rural development when he presents his budget in a few months time. The District Development Fund needs to be revamped and should also be premised on both local and international donor financing framework.
Transparency is lacking and corruption is rampant in District offices in Zimbabwe.
We need modernized rural areas with electricity, good roads, well equipped clinics and hospitals, accessible schools and tertiary institutions.
If we don’t work collectively as a nation to help unlock opportunities for our fellow countrymen who are marginalized who will do it for them? We are calling on the President of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mnangagwa to open Zimbabwe for business to Zimbabweans and ensure the ease of doing business for all Zimbabweans.
There are a lot of economic opportunities in rural areas and untapped talent. The quality of life for people in rural areas can be improved by investing in creative industries particularly film, music, arts, and book writing amongst others.
Food security can only be guaranteed if the government restores viability of the agricultural sector. Rural subsistence farmers need government support and empowerment to enable them to be food secure.
Access to information is a major challenge for the rural citizens in Zimbabwe. Most of them are not aware of the impacts of climate change on their livelihoods. It is critically important to have community radio stations in rural areas. Climate change will test the resilience of Zimbabweans. The brunt of climate change will have adverse effects on the women, children and people with disability in rural areas. We don’t have to wait for a crisis in order for us to act.
Now is the time to develop, educate and empower our rural communities. We want to see goal oriented provincial Ministers of State developing their provinces and empowering people who are marginalized and vulnerable,” said Masarira.