via Harare City Council finally consults stakeholders | The Zimbabwean 29.10.13 by CHRA
Harare City Council Finally convened its stakeholders meeting yesterday at Town-House in an effort to solicit views of critical stakeholders such as Residents Associations on the 2014 city budget.
The meeting that was abandoned last week after residents walked out on the council officials for failing to turn up in time was reconvened at the Town House Flag Room. The meeting was poorly attended with less than 30 stakeholders present, badly exposing the City’s communication and publicity strategy. Mrs Josephine Ncube chaired the meeting whilst Mr. Mubvumbi who is the City Treasurer made a presentation on the the 2012-2013 budget performance.
CHRA was represented by a delegation of 11 people led by the Chairperson, Mr Simbarashe Moyo. The CHRA Acting Director gave the opening submissions adding to the attention of the present management team that CHRA was disappointed by the manner in which ward consultative meetings were being convened. The City of Harare declined to avail the schedule of the meetings when CHRA asked for it with the intention of helping to mobilize residents in the communities to attend the budget consultative meetings. The office of the Chamber Secretary had said they could not release the schedule because it had not yet been approved by the City’s authorities. The strange and even suspicious thing about this response was that some of the meetings were already being conducted in areas like Greendale. It defies logic to think that the City of Harare could not release the meetings’ schedule when meetings were already being conducted in other areas. CHRA feels that this was a deliberate ploy by Town House to stifle the Association’s efforts to mobilize residents to attend the budget consultation meetings.
Issues submitted by CHRA at the stakeholders’ consultation meeting include the following:
1. The City should create a separate water account where revenue collected from water and sewer reticulation services will be ploughed back to the resuscitation of the water infrastructure.
2. CHRA suggested that stakeholders convene quarterly review meetings with council in an effort to involve stakeholders in budget tracking
3. The salary expenditure percentage of council stands at 40% and CHRA suggested that it be trimmed to suit the ministerial directive of the 30:70% ratio.
4. It was brought to the attention of the council management that if they are able to reclaim council buildings that are occupied by Chipangano they would realise extra revenue. An example sighted was Carter House in Mbare which previously used to work as an overnight accommodation facility for travellers but now acts as the headquarters of the shadowy militia group, Chipangano which is mainly concentrated in Mbare.
5. Council was advised to audit their accounts as a standard accountability measure.
6. Projects and partnerships that were assisted by CHRA e.g. the GIZ partnership which seeks to improve I.C.T in Council is taking forever to finish. There is need to speed up the process so that the billing system is put into shape.
My Mubvumbi tried by all means to respond to our issues to no satisfaction. Shockingly he insisted that Harare City Council’s billing system is not in shambles and even accused residents of dreaming. His response quickly drew fire from residents who were present quickly dismissing his assertion that the billing system was in shambles. Residents quickly gave examples of how bills unexplainably rose to around $120 a month after the rates’ slash.
The 2012 revenue budget stood at 272m and in 2013 it was at 291m whilst the capital budget was 146m and in 2013 was brought down to 78m. The Capital budget is being funded by loans, estates, R.C.C.O, P.S.I.P and ZINARA amongst other lines. Government owes Council 42m, residents 40m whilst industry and commerce owe 130m.
Proposed figures for the 2014 budget year will be compiled after the consultation process is complete and Council has promised that the figures will be informed by the priorities of residents and other stakeholders.