Devolution funds boost councils

Source: Devolution funds boost councils | The Herald

Bulawayo Bureau
DEVOLUTION funds are filling a social development gap which local authorities could not finance due to low revenue collections.

The outbreak of Covid-19 disrupted economic activities in most communities, and local authorities were not spared.

As a result, some councils could not fund capital projects including construction of clinics.

However, Government devolution funds are making a difference across the country, improving social amenities including construction of clinics, classroom blocks and other such facilities.

Matobo Rural District Council (MRDC) is among local authorities that are now able to meet some of its social development obligations following allocation of devolution funds.

The local authority has so far this year received more than $16 million in devolution funds from Government.

It has channelled the funds towards construction of clinics.

In an interview, Matobo RDC chief executive officer Mr Elvis Sibanda said many villagers who used to walk more than 15km to access health services, now have services at their doorstep.

“As a local authority we received $16,3 million of which $14,6 million has been committed towards completion of Umlugulu Clinic in Ward 24. The area is a resettlement area and these people were having challenges in accessing health care services as they were forced to travel more than 15km to the nearest clinic. The main structure has been roofed while plumbing and electric works are set to commence soon,” said Mr Sibanda.”

Two staff house are now at foundation level.

“We expect all the work to be completed by 30 September and commissioning should be in December this year.”

There is also another clinic being constructed and is set to be completed before the end of the year.

Mr Sibanda said devolution funds have enabled council to implement projects that improve the people’s welfare.

“The devolution funds have made a great difference given the little we have been collecting as a local authority from villagers and businesses.”

He said the Covid-19 pandemic had worsened the situation as some businesses have been forced to close as a result of the lockdowns.

“The Covid-19 has disrupted economic activities as some businesses have been forced to close down as part of lockdown regulations and this has affected us as a council,” said Mr Sibanda.

The businesses that were open were operating for few hours as they were closing at 3.30 pm.

Mr Sibanda said because of the cash flow challenges, the council was failing to pay its workers on time.

The local authority had to scrap penalties as a way of encouraging ratepayers to pay what they owe council.

“We have been severely affected to an extent that we are behind on salaries and councillors’ allowances by a month,” he said. Mr Sibanda said council was doing door to door collection of rates from businesses and villagers.