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 .