TellZim Newspaper forged partnerships with Chiredzi Rural District Council (RDC) and Chiredzi town council to promote access to credible information in a bid to enhance transparency and accountability in public resource and finance management for the benefit of residents.
The engagement meetings organised by TellZim separately last week saw both Chiredzi RDC and Chiredzi Town Council making pledges to work hand in glove with the media to promote access to credible information by residents.
Chiredzi RDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ailes Baloyi appreciated the engagement saying it was the first of its kind, and that it helped them to understand the importance of access to information in promoting transparency and accountability.
“We appreciate this engagement, it is one of its kind and we are hoping that we will engage with the media more from today going forward.
“I cannot agree more that access to information by residents is very critical and it enhances transparency and accountability in our operations. The misunderstandings we often have with the residents is because they lack adequate information about council operations therefore, we will make sure that we engage the media to disseminate information in real time.
“We will take steps to ensure that residents in particular get credible information concerning council operations and we will be issuing press statements to media houses so that when they report, they do it from an informed point,” said Baloyi.
TellZim News Editor Passmore Kuzipa said he is excited about the partnerships with councils saying it is part of the role of the media to foster community development.
“The synergies with local authorities will go a long way in promoting transparency and accountability in public finance management. We want to ensure that credible information reach to residents in real time and that would help them to make informed decisions,” said Kuzipa.
He added that this kind of engagements with council helps to close the information gap that was there between council and residents whilst motivating residents to pay up their bills.
“This kind of engagement with council helps to close the gap between residents and council, it becomes easy for residents to cooperate by paying their bills because they will be fully aware of council projects and at the end it will lead to development.
“As an organisation our main objective is to promote development at local level, so we are really happy with these engagements and we hope we will take this to other local authorities so that they come on board and fight for a common cause which is to promote development in our communities,” said Kuzipa.
As part of the resolutions made during the meeting held separately Chiredzi town council and Chiredzi RDC, both local authorities agree to introduce post full council meetings media briefing where they will highlight key deliberations and resolutions that would have been made.
Chiredzi RDC said it will make use of Chiredzi press club to constantly engage with the media, whilst Chiredzi town council resolved to make use of press releases, conferences and briefings to share their various developmental projects that will be taking place.
During the meetings, both councils agreed to the idea of introducing municipal reporter of the year awards as a way of encouraging reporters to cover more stories that have to do with council operations.
It was unanimously agreed that the two councils will hire information officers who will share information as required by the new law, the Freedom of Information Act.
Both councils also requested a workshop with all media houses, so that they can unpack the role of local authorities so that the reporters will report from an informed point.
During the meeting it was resolved that TellZim and Chiredzi town council will partner to facilitate the production of a council Newsletter.
TellZim News pledged space in its newspaper for these two councils to share critical information about service delivery.
The facilitators during the meeting Dr Last Alfandika and Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Vice Chairperson Jasper Maposa highlighted the importance of access to information and the role of the media in promoting development.
The partnership with these two local authorities comes hot on heels of another such initiative with Masvingo City Council with the same motive of proper information dissemination.