Embracing Data Journalism in telling our stories


By Sandra Musonza (ZIDAWU)

Date: 6-8 November 2019

Venue: Forest Hill Hotel B

Data journalism simply means digging issues from communities and putting these in the public domain for advocacy purposes. We should appreciate the role played by the media in disseminating vital information.

Recognizing the significance of community data journalists, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) organized a workshop to train communities basic data journalism skills. The workshop was held in Vumba from the 6th-8th of November 2019. ZELA’s Programs Officer Mr. Mukasiri Sibanda described Zimbabwe as a country whose communities are at an advanced level of engagement but failure to document is a cause of concern.For instance information relating to natural resource governance is not only limited to extraction of resources but must also incorporate everything including its impact to the final consumer. Global standard guidelines such as the United Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights strive to ensure the recognition of human rights best practices and as such investors must adhere to this.

Devolution prospects

There was also a brief discussion from Mutoko and Tongongara on how they utilized their devolution gains as district officials to promote development. The two-district highlighted that they received their fair shares and embarked on socioeconomic growth however there were also faced with challenges beyond their power. Recent development of economic inflation did affect their devolution balances which has caused retarded growth to their planning as the budget was affected.

The need to constantly revisit the following items to check if we are moving in the right developmental path must be considered; the constitutional provisions on devolution, financial public management, right to petition parliament. Revenues sharing is done by the Central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which collects taxations and send shares through the act of devolution to local authorities.

Community Share Ownership T(CSOTs)rusts -Chief Mapanzure

In giving a brief explanation of the Zvishavane CSOT costs were described as a politically aligned government program. The Indigenization Act was a positive development towards community empowerment. Every project requires total political will in its implementation.

Zimbabwean legislative components lack policy consistency hence poorly implementation has been recorded.

Experience of local authorities Mr Rufasha-

Development plans is the process of drafting what needs to be done. They are guided by country policies, laws and constitution. The aspect of decentralization of planning decision follows the following VIDCO, WARCO, RDDC and lastly PDC then National development plan. Lack of development is sometimes caused by divergent political views vs development goals.

How can we best share information about development planning or service delivery to the local people? Attending full council meetings, radio streaming of council meetings can enhance awareness of development plans. Challenges of local authorities: party politics, natural disasters, lack of resources, lack of clear coordination, inflation and lack of participation of local people.

Budgeting Process

The budget is a form of instrument used to allocate cash flows according to planned development ideas. The budget is done to come up with a clear map of intended planning on communities an aspect of decentralization of decision making. However, the budget is affected by many challenges such as misuse of funds, poor development plans, not being gender sensitive. Possible recommendations such as inclusion of local people during planning, revive government structures VIDCO up to PDC, capacity building leaders, refresher courses and reviewing of policies.

Role of the Law in the community

To ensure everyone is on the same page when we talk about development planning and any other issues such as service delivery, the constitution is always important as we look at addressing socioeconomic needs. It is therefore to tick the boxes on the progressive movement of local duties of local authorities, local environment plan and how best we can enhance service delivery. We must note service delivery is linked with resource extraction. A fair relationship must be promoted between local authorities and traditional leaders on issues to do business.

National Budget

You must use a framework to pick important areas thus prioritization of areas. The issue of following the money is an important aspect in benchmarking public financial management. One has to be familiar with pre budget strategy 2020, the 12 billion mining industry strategy, annual financial reports so as to link the relationship between the policies  and their visions.

Data journalism basic skills

Use of blog writing, articles and documentation is important to reach many people and bring awareness.Data journalism should be a simple approach to help amplify community voices vis-a-vis responsible investment practices. Stories to write may come not only from the extractives sector but can also focus on Auditor General’s reports, Council Budgets and Parastatals budgets while calling for social accountability and transparency in public offices and ensuring broad based community participation.


Title must win the heart of the reader, and title mostly is difficult to come with so it’s best to insert it after your essay. Your introduction must have a good sense and use of simple language is important. Constantly read international and local writing to enhance your writing skills.A good reader is a good writer.

Documentation is vital in data journalism.

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