- Category: Stories
- Published on Saturday, 09 April 2011 16:55
- Written by Charles Rukuni
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Ideas run the world. They are the source of transformation and development. This is one of the cardinal principles of Bulawayo Agenda, an organisation formed five years ago to provide a platform for people to share their views.
Bulawayo Agenda executive director Gorden Moyo says once people start talking and discussing issues, it becomes easy to solve their problems.
“We can solve all our problems through dialogue because it is only through dialogue that people can raise pertinent issues that affect them and raise questions about their own well being, their environment both political and economic and even cultural,” he said.
Bulawayo Agenda, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, has been providing people of Matabeleland and the Midlands with such a platform.
From humble beginnings where it had only one chapter, Bulawayo Agenda now has 10 chapters. They are in Victoria Falls, Hwange, Lupane, Nkayi, Tsholotsho, Gwanda, Plumtree, Matobo and Gweru. It is planning to spread to Masvingo and then on to Manicaland.
“We are going into areas that we think need attention. Harare is flooded with civic organisations which do almost the same work that we do such as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the National Constitutional Assembly. There is no need to compete,” Moyo said.
He said the organisation’s main focus was to provide a platform for citizens to debate issues because when people were informed they made informed decisions about who ruled them, for example, and also began to question policies and whether they were good for the nation or not.
Some of the major topics for debate this year had been the violation of human rights by the government especially the beating up of political and civic leaders on March 11. They had also looked at the inter-party talks initiated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as the issue of poverty and the declining standard of living.
“Zimbabwe is not a poor country,” Moyo said. “It has everything it needs to develop into a powerhouse but the problem is corruption and bad governance, dictatorship. We have to educate our people to do something about the poverty, to do something about the leadership of this country, to do something about the politics of this country, to do something about finding a lasting solution to their poverty.
“Yes, you can get food for the people, but you will feed them for only a day, but if you change those policies that are making them poor, you feed them for a generation,” Moyo said.
The organisation is now looking at the 2008 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local government elections which will be held simultaneously next year. It is holding 10 meetings this weekend to encourage people to debate the elections so that they will make sure that the parties adhere to the norms of holding free and fair elections.
It is also involved in leadership training. The programme was launched in 2005 and so far the organisation has trained 3 600 people , mostly from civic organisations and local communities. Some of the things participants learn are project management, human rights and research.
“One of our targets is traditional leaders. We would like them to be equipped with skills to represent the interests of the people they lead rather than those of the government ,” Moyo said.
The organisation also hosts focus group conversations to create space for civic society leaders to discuss pertinent issues for that week and come up strategies or policies on how to deal with those issues. It also publishes its material either in its newsletter or as occasional papers.