Participation which has become a famous orthodoxy in recent years among development agencies is the subject of this research on stakeholders in the water sector in Zimbabwe. Focus is on the participation of rural community members in smallholder formal and informal irrigation activities in their locale, and their representation in the sub-catchment and catchment levels respectively. A framework of analysis was constructed using evidence from the study to help us understand what shapes the participation of community members in irrigation WUAs in a selected small catchment of the larger Mzingwane catchment in southwest Zimbabwe. The study recommends the adoption of the micro-catchment level as the lowest tier for integrated water management, a union for smallholder irrigation WUAs and the provision of technology to leverage the participation of more community members in productive water use. Besides, to improve the framework analytical power, its review to include the role of politics and the wider notion of representational democracy is also recommended.