The stance taken by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni not to approve the capital city’s 2018 budget until the contentious adjustments on the human resources and sport allocations are revised downwards is laudable, timely and impressive.
If only all the local authorities could focus on service delivery and channel the scarce financial resources to the cause of the residents, there would be no reason to find litter everywhere across all major towns including Harare.
However, Manyenyeni’s standpoint is a good thing coming too late when he is left with just a few months before the next elections. Where were you Cde mayor? We wonder whether this is not politicking given that the 2018 harmonised elections are beckoning.
Overall, we believe this is a radical but reasonable position given that priority must first be given to residents and rate payers who have often been getting a raw deal from the municipality in terms of service delivery.
Coming at a time when residents have been complaining about receiving dirty water for the past two weeks and non-collection of refuse, it is prudent for council management to think through its priorities when it comes to budget allocations.
Indeed, certain things that they may want funded are certainly not key priorities and these should only be considered after reasonable allocations have been made to critical sectors.
Manyenyeni is right to read the riot act and refuse to accede to a budget that is not people-oriented.
Clearly, in its current state, the budget is unsustainable and there is need to revisit it and avoid a situation where it is politicised or hijacked by some uncouth individuals who would use it as an opportunity to loot public resources at a time Harare is yearning for improved service delivery.
In fact, the habit of using the budget as a means to achieve certain selfish ends should be rejected with the contempt it deserves. Those responsible for council finances should demonstrate that they are keen to put their finances in order. One way of doing so is by making sure that no one overshoots the budget.
There is need for no-nonsense gatekeepers and the mayor has already shown the way. Sanity must be allowed to prevail at Town House if the residents are to retain confidence in the city fathers.
Given that service delivery has been poor, it does not make sense to allocate huge chunks of the budget to things like football, workshops and salaries, which do not bring in any revenue. It’s better to invest in the welfare of residents and ratepayers.