THE failure by government to approve a $2,85 billion Bulawayo City Council (BCC)’s 2020 supplementary budget has hit the city’s ability to provide efficient service to ratepayers, an official said yesterday.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube claimed the council was now unable to meet obligations on time.
The $2,85 billion supplementary budget was proposed in September in order to hedge against inflation which had resulted in the rise in prices of goods and services.
It was expected to be effected on November 1. In the supplementary budget, council proposed to raise rates and tariffs.
Council justified the supplementary budget saying inflation was taking a toll on prices, interest rates and labour costs.
“Failure to approve the supplementary budget is affecting council operations in a big way,” the deputy mayor said.
“Firstly, we are failing to procure things we need to offer efficient services to our ratepayers.
“Secondly, this is also the reason why we are struggling to pay our workers due to the delay in approving the supplementary budget,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Local Government minister July Moyo were fruitless as his phone went unanswered.
BCC is now proposing a $17 billion budget for 2021.
However, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) rejected the council’s 2021 proposed budget, arguing that the process and content of the budget were flawed and did not meet residents’ needs.
Council held budget consultation meetings via the WhatsApp platform, citing COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
“But the process was dismissed by various stakeholders as discriminatory.
BPRA in a letter dated November 4, 2020 addressed to the BCC rejected the 2021 budget proposal and raised concern that the WhatsApp platform did not give enough room for engagement.
“We are of the view that the consultations were one-way as residents never made meaningful contributions.
“The consultations did not afford residents meaningful room to engage.
“Some BCC staff members including some councillors who were responsible for communicating with the residents in each respective ward group were failing to answer resident’s questions with some councillors becoming emotional and personalising the process to a point of exiting WhatsApp budget consultation groups,” BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said.