By Tonderai Saharo
LACK of Access to information among villagers is a major contributor to continued underdevelopment of rural Masvingo, a local think tank has said.
Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) is helping in bridging the gap in Chirambamuriwo village under Chief Shumba in Ward 18, Masvingo Central by building an information centre for villagers.
In a statement, the organisation said the establishment of information centres started during a conflict prevention, peace building and social accountability monitoring projects in the area.
The information centre is located between Ward 16 and Ward 18 boundary to allow both wards to have access information.
The community is currently building a two-roomed building which will be supplied with both government controlled and independent newspapers.
The centre will also be supplied with the parliamentary Hansard as well as the local authority’s full council minutes to help keep the community informed on governance issues for their area.
“In rural areas, the need for information cannot be overestimated as it is a major contributory factor to the lack of progress and community participation in the development process.
“These information centres seek to intensify information dissemination on development, humanitarian issues, peace building and social accountability.
“The provision of alternative sources of information improves the capacity and knowledge of the community members to actively play a role in social accountability monitoring, peace building and community development,” COTRAD said.
The organisation said government has an obligation to ensure that citizens were protected from the barrage of misinformation through providing the public with facilities where they could access reliable, evidence-based information.
“COTRAD Community information centres complement support for the government in ensuring access to information in rural areas,” reads the statement.
Access to information is a constitutional right enshrined in section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that, every Zimbabwean citizen has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability or protection of a right.