Budget monitoring key in addressing social issues 

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By Lloyd Rabaya 

Epworth, a dormitory town in south-eastern Harare, is one of the towns with high crime rates, poverty, and squalor. With a population of above 200 000 people according to the 2022 national housing census, the town is also a harbour of child pregnancies, prostitution, drug and substance abuse, unemployment and poor service delivery, as is the case for most towns.

Annah Sande, former Mayor of the town and a Social and Economic Justice Advocate (SEJA) believes that the low economic expenditure and poor service delivery has led to the high crime rates amongst other impediments in the community.

“It results in our households being poor. If we are not able to enroll our children, especially the girl child they end up, marrying themselves out or eloping,” she told this publication at the sidelines of a workshop by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) and Parliament on the State of Service Delivery in Local Authorities. More so, the town faces a significant deficit of health facilities not able to cater to all residents, which also leads to high mortality rates in the area and the country at large.

Amongst the Harare Metropolitan Province, Epworth has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates which Sande believes is linked to the inaccessibility of education facilities for most girls due to the deficit of schools, a child of poor service delivery. Despite the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 4 and 6 respectively calling for poverty eradication, good health and well-being, quality education and clean water and sanitation, it is still a fantasy in Epworth, a mirror for almost all other towns.

With the community not having access to good sanitation, girls and women feel the vice twice as much as they need to be clean during their menstruation as well as when giving birth.

Diana Mailosi of the Advocacy Core Team jumped in, saying that concientising parliamentarians with issues of policy implementation and budget expenditure tracking was key in addressing any issues arising from constituencies.

“As part of our oversight role, Parliamentary Portfolio Committees (PPCs) must define the SDGs that are theirs and then work towards them.

For SDG number 3 on good health and well-being, there are written indicators such as reducing maternal mortality and end all preventable deaths under five years of age.

This will happen if immunisation and nutrition programmes are put in check,” she said.

Mailosi also urged for citizens to be on the forefront on accountability issues and keeping an eye on the service delivery system as it will necessitate coordination between community members, health providers, civil society, and government officials to tackle health quality and equity hurdles.

However, for long, Zimbabwean health practitioners have been leaving the country in search of greener pastures, citing poor remuneration.

Meanwhile, the ban on care workers taking their dependents to the United Kingdom, which was announced in December last by the UK government, is now effective.