Thyolo — National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) says the country could only achieve social economic development if democracy is promoted as it is a fundamental aspect for quality development.
NICE District Civic Education Officer for Thyolo, Moses Kaunda told Mana in an interview on Thursday that empowering communities to exercise their democracy is the only way which could narrow the gap between duty bearers and the community.
He pointed out that elimination of the gap would help communities to engage service providers in various developmental aspects affecting them.
"The issue of democracy should not be treated as usual business because there is still a lot that needs to be done. Some communities do not engage service providers yet they need clarification on various developments happening in their areas," the NICE officer observed.
He described democracy as the only way which creates a platform for transparency and accountability between service providers and communities as it guarantees quality services.
"As NICE, our core business is to promote democracy and good governance, citizen participation and empowerment so that the culture of silence and fear of unknown which still exist in some communities should be dealt with," Kaunda added.
He emphasized that communities should not look at duty bearers as their bosses rather public servants.
"This is the reason NICE comes in to bring together office bearers and communities through public debates so that we should bring to an end the gap which has been there. These debates will encourage citizen participation and service providers will not be working in isolation," Kaunda told Mana.
He said apart from debate, NICE has created other platforms such as citizen forum at village head, group village levels as well as at traditional authority level to ensure that there is citizen engagement with service providers in various activities affecting their lives.
The Officer viewed that citizen participation is not a new phenomenon as it is already stipulated in the decentralization policy.
Kaunda said so far the district is enjoying fruits as people are engaging service providers and the number of people taking part in community development has risen.
"There are a lot of volunteers in Thyolo communities which is a tangible example that people like the aspect of citizen participation on issues affecting their lives," he added.
Kaunda encouraged the communities to continue taking part in issues affecting them and should question service providers if they are not convinced in certain things.
"They should not forget that all developments come from their own money they pay through taxes so they should be vigilant to transform their areas," he hinted.