This paper explores democratic participation as a fundamental concept for
improving service delivery in rural local government in Zimbabwe. The paper
argues that it is vital to show commitment to the democratic process through
implementable plans that compel councillors in Zimbabwe’s rural district councils
(RDCs) to involve communities in the service delivery process. The paper acknowledges that although Zimbabwe has arguably adopted commendable local government policies and has established appropriate structures for democratic participation, the practice does not justify the effort. The article also notes that RDCs tend to minimize or underplay the role of communities in service delivery and this has invariably led to uninformed communities and quasi-compliance. The article further posits that local
effort and commitment to ‘humanize’ these policies and structures through mobilizing
the ultimate beneficiaries of RDC action to participate in processes of service delivery
has led to strategic policy designs, implementation and evaluation. It is also noted that RDCs should sensitize communities on the fundamental values of democratic participation and ensure that all council deliberations are premised on community input. Finally,it is argued in this article that councillors should be compelled to provide intelligible and timely reports to communities to keep the latter informed of council actions.