The deplorable state of national politics is negatively impacting on community development
By Akson Potera
As I continue from where I left off last week in The Sunday Express new terms continue to be added in the dictionaries and thesauri of the world, community politics is totally an undocumented subject or term.
Though the subject is not modern and usually spoken of in politics, no one has yet taken time to peruse much of it.
It is a term used by community development practitioners and politicians. Unfortunately very few people have little understanding about the concept and its effects to their daily lives.
Worse, the subject is ignored by government authorities and politicians.
Community Politics is the study of community interests, needs, differences and relations taking place within a small geographical location. (et al Akson Potera 2013: Factors of Community Development).
The subject is ignorantly overlooked at, by both government authorities and development practitioners.
Communities fail to assist themselves, primarily, because of community politics which the are not aware of is not properly managed.
Community needs versus Community Interests
Let’s look at the following example of where community politics takes place:
Community Needs vs Community Interests
Political Leaders may bring a particular project or service in the community to garner more votes eg buying cars for community traditional leaders (Chiefs).
Though the purchasing of cars is seen as a step towards the right direction, community development, the truth is, the decision was based on interest instead of need.
The need, would be using vehicles as community ambulances or be used for community need assessment (CNA), the latter is a life saving decision…it’s a need. As you read this piece of text, many other examples are clocking in your mind!
Another example, the building of a community hall instead of community school or clinic.
How did community politics affect the two examples above?
Abuse of political power and influence usually is a trailing factor behind needs vs interest in the community.
Uneducated and less educated people are usually sidelined when decisions are taken for programmes meant for them.
This leads to wasting of resources, time and painfully, finance in this case there would be no solution since the patient is not part of the illness treatment solution.
The would-be beneficiaries of a community programme have little or zero say of what is meant for them, therefore politics has taken its course despite the fact that no solution was achieved.
This means that, after elections, all community members must work as a team towards their community development thus putting aside their political differences.
Community leaders should abandon the election mood the day the winner, MP or Councillor is declared.
Unfortunately many people would remain in the political mode for the next five years (political term) which affects those in the community more than those at national politics.
Our constitution is very clear that we are all the same and equal before the constitution though there are some who view themselves as more equal than others.
Sections 274 and 276 are very clear on decentralisation of power or devolution.
Very few people dont know the reason why they vote. They vote because someone has voted for Mr/s X not Y.
Some don’t even dont know that whatever they should receive from the government is theirs (tax).
Ironically, those who voted for or against Mr/s X suffer the same consequences.
Many voters don’t consider the return on investment (ROI), of voting hence we see people perpetually voting for those who failed before.
Coming to power versus capability, some programmes are imposed on communities, as the the community members have no power to defend themselves, they have no choice but to accept the gift of loss.
The deplorable state of national politics is negatively impacting on community development. In case of Zimbabwe poverty has become uniform countrywide whereas there are some provinces and districts with abundant resources to sustain themselves and other areas.
Community politics sholud be separated from national politics just like other levels of government.
The communities of Zimbabwe will remain poor though they were not supposing to be as we know that some are naturally rich.
Community politics is what shapes national and international politics, community development builds national and international development so the subject must be carefully studied.
When and if development fails, it starts from the community and by the people who live ie wrong voting, wrong choice of projects and wrong community and traditional leaders.
This is Community Politics.
Empowerment is the beginning of development.
Akson Potera, Interim President of ADP Zimbabwe. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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