Council to embark on online budget consultative meetings

Source: Council to embark on online budget consultative meetings | Sunday News (local news)

Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council will conduct consultations for its 2021 budget through WhatsApp due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions which only allows gatherings of not more than 50 individuals.

The local authority is required by law to hold consultation meetings when coming up with a budget, with residents having the power to even reject the budget proposal if they feel council had not adequately consulted them.

Council on Friday rolled a programme where residents in the city’s 29 wards are required to join their respective ward’s WhatsApp group where the budget proposals will be presented to them.

“The City of Bulawayo will be holding WhatsApp Budget Consultation Meetings due to the Covid-19 protocols which restrict meetings of more than 50 people. You are invited to join your Ward WhatsApp group so that you participate in the formulation of the 2021 Budget,” reads a message sent to residents.

However, concerns have been raised on this facility as a WhatsApp group can only hold a maximum of 257 members.

Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said they had noted that social media was a platform they could easily exploit to have a far reach during the times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“What I must emphasise is that as council we do not have much of a choice because of this national lockdown. However, we will also have the physical meetings but they will be controlled by the regulations that require us to have 50 people per sitting.

“In terms of the numbers and the school of thought that we will prevent some people from participating because of the controlled numbers that can join a WhatsApp group there is nothing much we can do but I will tell you that during physical meetings people actually do not come to such meetings,” he said.