This study on the extent of marginalised groups’ participation in local democracy in rural Zimbabwe adopts a mixed research approach: data were gathered through self-administered questionnaires, focus group discussions, key informant interviews and document review. Results show that varied mechanisms exist – including the national Constitution, policies, and institutional frameworks – that allow for the inclusion and participation of all citizens. However, few marginalised groups participated in electoral processes, community development, law and policy formulation. Most respondents had low awareness about the available mechanisms for civic engagement with locally elected leaders and the local authority. Poverty, negative attitudes, cultural barriers and low self-esteem and levels of education among the marginalised groups exacerbate this situation. Such exclusion produces limited democratic processes. Marginalised groups’ representation and meaningful participation in making decisions that are appropriate to their needs remain peripheral. Therefore, the doctrine of democratic governance and human rights that is premised on the notion of equal participation by all citizens in the study area has not been achieved. The study advocates policy interventions to improve the inclusion and participation of marginalised groups in local democracy.
Inclusion and participation
Sustainable Development Goals
1 - No poverty16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions