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Nkayi Community Parliament: The model for peace in Matabeleland

16 Aug 2021 at 08:24hrs | Views
The recently established, Nkayi Community Parliament, which fosters community involvement, participation and the development of Nkayi District, is a haven of ideas, peace, mutual respect and political tolerance within the district. The parliament is a grassroots initiative which is a diverse gathering of Nkayians of all walks of life, persuasions and adaptations which chisels well into the civilised concept of devolution of power, which Nkayi and the rest of the country sorely yearn for. It is partly for this reason that the call for the concept to spread throughout the region, cannot be bellowed loud enough.

Community involvement
Nkayi Community Parliament provides the scarce opportunity for convergence and community involvement on matters affecting the district of choice and its inhabitants. The people from the two constituencies of the district that comprise various political parties, individuals, lone activists and civic organisations have forged a united front and bridged any obstacles that are hurdles to development. The unity is mainly driven by the over forty-years of abject poverty, hunger and deprivation currently bedevilling the district. The community has decided to demand its involvement on Nkayi matters instead of outsourcing involvement to career individuals and tourist business persons. To develop their community, Nkayians intend to make in-kind and financial donations; volunteer programmes; non-profit partnerships; development and former student associations; community debates and resolutions; and then fuse the totality of those efforts for the benefit of the neglected district. Nkayi Community Parliament encourages ideas and divergent views to be brought forth by anyone and be discussed in a civil, respectful and progressive manner. As the district heavily subscribes to the principles of ubuntu, Nkayians never struggle living to that billing. This community interface is made possible through the use of various platforms that include face to face discussions, exchanges emabhasini, enqoleni and virtual media, among others. In that way, the community now wields the power to bring positive and measurable change to the district, simply through the ability to talk issues into existence.

Reservoir of ideas
Nkayi Parliament is an unparalleled reservoir of ideas for community development in which community members support each other to identify and take collective action on issues which are pertinent to them. This empowers the members of the community and thereby creating a stronger and neatly connected district community. The people of Nkayi have and share ideas on how best the construction of the "no-road" road from Nkayi to Bulawayo can be approached. They also have the alternative route to the sustainable recruitment of civil servants like teachers and others at district level through the local Public Service Commission (PSC) office to ensure responsiveness to local needs. Other ideas include how the extraction of timber could be community-managed to ensure mutual benefit for all Nkayians as opposed to the current approach which is controlled by outsiders who ensure the employment of their kinsmen, wives and cousins in all sectors in the district at the expense of locals.

Peace-building and political tolerance
Nkayi Community Parliament is also a unique platform that fosters the unity of Nkayians of all political and whatever orientations in a setting widely known for political violence and intolerance. The political violence in Nkayi and Matabeleland generally, stretching from the liberation struggle, Gukurahundi, 2002 and 2008 left Nkayians divided and bruised. The recent discovery of human skeletons at Lukona Primary School which borders Nkayi and Bubi District, is one such brutal example. Wisely, Nkayians are currently bridging the gap and are unanimous in that any future violent candidate or political party should not get any vote in the district. The community has accepted that the need to unite far outweighs the benefit of allegiance to political parties as that has not benefited the district since 1980. For development to occur, Nkayians agree that the removal of their political jackets on matters to do with the advancement of the district, is the only way to go. This leaves the district poised for greater heights! No ‘eye for an eye' by the Nkayians. Why should we maim and kill each other singomakhelwane? Khonapho sithunywa ngobani njalo bengaba ngaphi?

 The concept should spread

The invaluable concept of community involvement in the mould of Nkayi Community Parliament should spread to the whole of Matabeleland as the timely precursor to the implementation of devolution of power. The community parliament aims to devolve to ward and village levels for inclusive interchange of ideas, views, development-oriented thinking and input. We should also have (if locals there embrace the idea) the Lupane Parliament, Binga Parliament, Whange Parliament, Tsholotsho Parliament, Bubi Parliament and Umguza Parliament, naturally giving birth to the umbrella Matabeleland North Community Parliament. All districts of Matabeleland South may also adopt the concept giving birth to the envisaged Matabeleland South Community Parliament, with the rest of the country seamlessly fusing in. Nkayians view this as an all-important popular initiative that will informally assert their aspirations and keep current official leadership accountable to the electorate despite the political parties they belong to. In that regard, local communities would be able to indirectly contribute to the national parliament, or the anticipated provincial parliaments to be established under Section 264 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment 20 of 2013. This will ease interaction between councillors, Members of Parliament (MPs), the Zimbabwe Parliament and the communities they represent. The result would be the attainment of the much-sought community development in the form of both infrastructural and non-structural development.

Coordination challenges
However, this noble concept may not go without challenges. Even Goliath has weaknesses, our elders say. To avoid coordination challenges, each district or provincial parliament would be autonomous and only answerable and accountable to its local residents as no funding will be attainable for coordinating its programmes and activities. The local parliaments are aimed at being self-sustaining and comprising volunteering individuals with the development of their respective districts at heart. However, the use of virtual communication platforms and gatherings is proving invaluable for the success of the initiative.

Nkayi Community Parliament could undeniably the model for peace and civilised coexistence in Nkayi and the whole country, and should arguably be embraced by all progressive citizens. It is hoped that the thin hands of the devil will not touch, shrink and smother this great initiative by the development-seeking and law-abiding community of Nkayi District.

Nhlanhla Moses writes in his capacity as a Nkayian and part of the founders of Nkayi Community Parliament and can be contacted on:

+27 73 386 2303

Source - Nhlanhla Moses
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